The pirates of Penzance are a rather tender-hearted band, made up exclusively of orphans and they are unable to bring themselves to harm or offend anyone of a similar background. They are celebrating Frederic’s coming of age and subsequent release from his apprenticeship to them. He joined the pirates as a child owing to a mistake by Ruth, his nursemaid, who misheard his father’s instructions to apprentice him to a pilot. She has remained with Frederic ever since and now harbours a desire to marry him.
However, Frederic meets and falls in love with Mabel, whose sisters have been claimed by the pirates as their future brides. Their father, the Major-General, is horrified at this prospect and declares himself to be an orphan, knowing that this will effect their immediate release. As an ex-pirate, Frederic now feels that his duty is to society and he wastes no time in assembling a police force to capture the pirates. He is, therefore, dismayed when he learns from Ruth and the Pirate King that, due to the fact that his birthday is on 29th February and only occurs once every four years, he has in effect only had five birthdays; the terms of his apprenticeship state that he is bound to the pirates until his 21st birthday!
Consequently, feeling that his loyalty is now to the pirates again, Frederic reveals that the Major-General is not really an orphan. The Pirate King is furious that he has been tricked and plots to capture the Major-General, his daughters and the police and take his revenge. This task proves no problem to his band of men until the Sergeant of Police demands that they surrender in the name of Queen Victoria. This is too much for the pirates and they yield to the request. However, as they are about to be taken into custody Ruth reveals that they are not really pirates at all, but noblemen who have gone astray. On hearing this, the Major-General orders their release, restores them to their rightful ranks and offers them his daughters in marriage.
So a happy ending for the pirates, the daughters, the police, in fact everyone! There are many laughs throughout this entertaining and wonderfully updated version of one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s most famous stories. Diehard fans of G&S and newcomers to the Pirates of Penzance will be laughing out loud at the ridiculously fast patter songs, humour and antics of everyone on stage.