‘Pirates of Penzance Jr.’ showcases Dearborn Summer Arts Academy Players

Photo by Cynthia Frabutt
“Pirates of Penzance Jr.” cast members Emma Garber (left), 16, of Dearborn; Mary Lesniak, 16, of Dearborn Heights; and Lia Bertucci, 15, of Dearborn sing a preview of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Climbing Over Rocky Mountain” June 28 at the Dearborn Farmers & Artisans Market.

Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance Jr.” puts the spotlight on the talents of 67 local youth in a Dearborn Summer Arts Academy Players production at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center.

Tickets are $10 for general admission and are available at the door, or online at www.dearborntheater.com/whats-on/1-whats-on/10001434-pirates-of-penzance-jr.

Directed and produced by Cythnia Frabutt of Dearborn in collaboration with the city of Dearborn, the show features the talents of Dearborn residents Natalie Clyne and Kurt Frank as musical directors, Jeanette Capote as choreographer, and Margaret Charara and Wendy Balaka as costumers.

Dearborn residents working behind the scenes include Jessie Balaka as stage manager, Grace Sekulidis as assistant stage manager and Emma Garber as dance captain.

The set and costumes have a unique designed-in “steam punk” flare, Frabutt said.

The comic opera in two acts tells of Frederic, who upon turning 21 earns release from his apprenticeship to a tenderhearted band of pirates. Frederic then falls in love with Mabel, the daughter of Major-General Stanley. However, when Frederic discovers he was born on Leap Year, and only has a birthday every four years, he feels duty-bound to serve out his apprenticeship to the pirates for another 63 years while Mabel faithfully waits for him.

Frabutt said the show is a hilarious farce with sentimental pirates, bumbling police, dim-witted lovers and dewy-eyed daughters.

She added that Sullivan’s melodies and Gilbert’s lyrics are timeless and have the ability to stick in one’s head.

She said one of her challenges in working with an age-diverse cast is keeping the younger ensemble members engaged when attention shifts to the older teen leads and featured players.

“I’m not entirely sure the younger ones fully understand the synopsis of the story,” Frabutt said. “However, they are thoroughly enjoying playing their roles as pirates and daughters.”

She said the cast’s favorite numbers include the opening pirate number “Pour, O’ Pour the Pirate Sherry” and the daughters’ “Climbing Rocky Mountains.” The Keystone Cops, she added, love “Tarantara, Tarantara.”

Lead cast members include Dearborn residents Westley Montgomery, 18, as Frederic; Mary Charara, 17, as Mabel; Kyle Tillman, 18, as the Pirate King; and Katherine Lieblang, 17, as Samuel.

Other Dearborn resident leads include Camille Charara, 18, and Adrienne Walling, 17, sharing the role of Ruth; Harry Totten, 17, as the Major-General; Emma Garber, 16, as Kate; Jazzmin Sharara, 16, as Edith; Abbi Balaka, 15, and Katie Garber, 12, sharing the role of Isabel (with Garber performing Sunday); and Jordan Di Gregorio, 17, as the Sergeant.

Dearborn Heights residents in key roles on Sunday include Hope Lesniak, 14, as Samuel; Rebekah Preiss, 14, as Kate; and Mary Lesniak, 16, as Edith.

The pirates are played by Dearborn residents Joe Cellini, 18; Andrew Oswald, 16; 
Tyler Katona, 17; Jacob Depper, 15; Mikayla Capote, 14; Kayla Katona, 13; Joey Miller, 7; 
Grace Sekulidis, 16; Kristin Thompson, 14; Irenie Froman, 13; Grace Bertucci, 12; Noah Goddard, 12; Ben Blessing, 12; Andrew Blankenship, 12; Lucas Blessing, 10; Jimmy Gordon, 10; John Oatney, 12; Peter Oatney, 10; and Savannah Capote, 7.

Dearborn Heights residents playing pirates include Sara Jennings, 14; Josephine Bryan, 13; Luke Adamkiewicz, 11; Karim Hazime, 13; Alina Hazime, 9; and Kurt Wilson, 7. 

Other pirates include Bryce Fallows, 7, of Canton Township; Madeline Walentowicz, 6, of Garden City; and Emily and Chas Cser, both 8, of Westland.

Cast members playing daughters include Dearborn residents Sara Randall, 14; Lia Bertucci, 15; Nicole Jennings, 16; Mikayla Capote, 14; Shannon McHenry, 10; Libby Jones, 14; Olivia Kirk, 9; Ava Moschet, 9; Brooke Preiss, 9; Anna Karoub, 12; Charlotte Karoub, 8; Nora Karoub, 10; Amelia Tennant, 12; Abby Goddard,14; Josie Goddard, 5; and Isabella Nordini, 9.

Dearborn Heights cast members playing daughters include Madison Ganzak, 9; Claire Lesniak, 10; Jamie Paschke, 9; and Lucee Wilson, 8.

Other daughters include Bailey Fallows, 8, of Canton Township, and Megan Cser, 11, and Rachel Cser, 10, of Westland.

 Keystone cops are played by Dearborn residents Grace Bertucci; Lia Bertucci; Andrew Blankenship; Noah Goddard; Ben Blessing; Sara Randall; Mikayla Capote, 14; and Kayla Katona. 
 Dearborn Heights residents playing Keystone cops include Karim Hazime and Luke Adamkiewicz.