Augustana College's new production of the Gilbert & Sullivan operetta "The Pirates of Penzance" this weekend features two special cast members -- Ann Boaden and Dan Lee of the college faculty.
"I'vebeen a Gilbert & Sullivan fan forever and ever. I've been singing the choruses all my life," said Dr. Boaden, an adjunct English professor whose father was from Cornwall, England (where the silly 1879 show is set). "It is one of my favorite shows because of those associations."
A playwright and occasional actress herself, Dr. Boaden (who has a Ph.D from University of Chicago) did theater when she was an Augie student (class of 1967), and in "Pirates" is in the chorus of maidens.
"The students are wonderful; I can't say enough good things about them," she said. "They're talented, engaged, responsible, exceedingly kind to me." Dr. Boaden also praised director John Pfautz for his unerring sense of the absurd comedy.
Dr. Lee, a humanities professor and director of the Augustana Center for the Study of Ethics, said he's "loving every minute" of "Pirates," in which he plays a "cowardly police officer who repeatedly tries to run off, only to be dragged back by the other two police officers, both of whom are first-year students here at Augustana."
He is a member of the Handel Oratorio Society and has sung with Opera Quad Cities in four operas.
"When I started teaching at Augustana almost 40 years ago, I never imagined that three weeks short of my 68th birthday, I would be singing and dancing on stage with students who were not yet born when I started teaching here -- and keeping up with them," said Dr. Lee, who has his Ph.D from Yale. "And being dragged back to stage by them when I try to run away. But life is never predictable."
"Pirates" -- presented by Opera@Augustana -- features an unconventional major general, his doe-eyed daughters and a group of blundering policemen. As the pirates try to retain Frederic, their formerly apprenticed pirate,this cackle of characters battles the principles of honor and duty.
Brian Jozwiak, a sophomore music education major from Vernon Hills, Ill., who plays the Pirate King, is looking forward to sharing the unique British humor.
"The rehearsal process for this production has been extremely rewarding," he said. "Each of the cast members brings a unique perspective and together, we know how to have a really good time. We have worked hard for the past two months and are looking forward to finally presenting our finished product."
"Pirates of Penzance" will be presented at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday in Wallenberg Hall, within the Denkmann Memorial Building, 3520 7th Ave., Rock Island.Tickets are $12 for the general public; $10 for senior citizens, students, Augustana faculty and staff;and $8 for children age 12 and younger.
To make a reservation, call 309-794-7306 or visit augustana.edu/tickets.