“The Pirates of Penzance” is a story of an unlikely romance, and pirates who are scared of their own shadows, policemen who are scared of pirates, a high ranking military officer with plenty of knowledge but no common sense, very pretty but slightly ditzy young maidens, and the requisite old hag who nearly ruins everything. The music is lively and accessible to all audiences.
Several area singers will be featured in this production. The lead role of Frederic will be performed by Daniel Bell, a voice professor at Kentucky Christian University in Grayson. Jonathan Adkins, a local Kentucky Farm Bureau agent, will appear as Major-General Stanley. The Pirate King is Ryland Pope, a native of Harlan and student at Georgetown College. His lieutenant, Samuel, will be played by Cameron Painter, of Morehead. The police sergeant will be David Herrington, an MSU graduate. Ruth, the old hag, will be sung by Sarah Smith, Stamping Ground. The lead role of Mabel is double cast with Amy Painter, a senior vocal performance major at MSU, and Dr. Heather Hunnicutt, voice professor at Georgetown College. The daughters of Major-General Stanley include Jewelie Casteel, West Liberty; Greta Hicks, Prestonsburg; Dr. Alana Scott, MSU faculty; Rachael Fannin, Morehead; and Brittany Lewis, Mount Sterling. The pirates and policemen include Chris Adams, Morehead; Ryan Gilbert, Prestonsburg; Drake Gillaspie, Mount Sterling; and Dr. John Secor, MSU faculty.
Highlands Light Opera was founded by Dr. Roma Prindle, a native of Harlan and MSU associate professor of music. Dr. Prindle has experience with several American opera companies as a singer and director, including Minnesota Opera, Opera Roanoke, Connecticut Opera, Opera Express, Goodspeed Opera and Dorian Opera. She studied and performed with Dr. Vern Sutton, one of this country’s foremost interpreters of the Gilbert and Sullivan genre. The music director is Elizabeth Huling, the founding director of the Emerging Artists Group and vocal instructor at the Youth Performing Arts High School in Louisville. She has performed with the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players, as well as such luminaries as Hal Prince, William Vendice and Kenneth Schermerhorn. The rehearsal pianist is Mary Ellen McNeill, a summa cum laude graduate of MSU and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music Masters Program. She is presently in great demand as a collaborative pianist throughout the region.
The mission of Highlands Light Opera, according to Dr. Prindle, is to serve the surrounding community, functioning as a regional organization. Recognizing that there is an abundance of musical talent in this part of the country, all efforts will be made to draw the majority of personnel from the central Appalachian region. All shows will be from the lighter operatic fare and will be performed in English.
Many people have contributed in a variety of ways to help establish this company. Everyone involved in Pirates of Penzance is volunteering his or her talents, time and gas money. That includes Prindle, the entire cast and crew, and all musicians. Several area businesses and individuals have made donations to fund the grass roots effort.
“I have been truly overwhelmed by this generosity,” Prindle said. “Many of these singers and musicians could command impressive salaries for this work. Yet they have chosen to donate their services to help get Highlands Light Opera off the ground. This speaks well of our region.”
Once the company has established itself it will qualify for grant funding. Prindle is quite optimistic about the prospects of opera performance in Appalachia attracting major funding. In the meantime all donations are tax-deductible and are welcome. If you would like to support Highlands Light Opera, please send your donation to Dr. Roma Prindle, 204 Baird Music Hall, Morehead State University, Morehead, KY 40351. Checks may be written to Morehead State University, memo: Highlands Light Opera (or simply HLO). For more information, contact Dr. Prindle at r.prindle@ moreheadstate.edu.