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BCC and Russell Arts Council sponsor summer musical
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RUSSELL — Eye patches will be in excess when the Russell Arts Council and Barton Community College cosponsor the summer musical, “The Pirates of Penzance,” at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, June 29 and 30, in the Ruppenthal Middle School Auditorium, 400 North Elm St., Russell.
Admission to the full-scale Russell showings is $7 and tickets are available at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m. with curtain at 7:30 p.m. All seats are general admission.
A free concert-style presentation will be at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 1, at the Barton County Courthouse in Great Bend. BCC theater director Erin Renard said the “lawn  chair” performance will be somewhat abridged, but will include much of the choreography and elements of the set will be transported to Great Bend for the show.
“Barton’s Dean of Academics Dr. Rick Abel always wanted to host an outdoor performance and support more community events in downtown Great Bend, so we were able to arrange to bring the show to them,” she said.
Renard provides stage direction and choreography. Russell High School choral instructor Alex Underwood serves as the musical director. In addition to the onstage performers, the show will feature a middle-school chorus off-stage and a seven-piece orchestra.
“Wacky, irreverent and as entertaining today as it was when it first opened in 1879, ‘The Pirates of Penzance,’ spins a hilarious farce of sentimental pirates, bumbling policemen, dim-witted young lovers, dewy-eyed daughters and an eccentric Major-General, all morally bound to the often-ridiculous dictates of honor and duty,” according to an article in Music Theatre International.
The production is a 1980 adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s 1879 opera, which saw widespread success in London and early America, Renard said. The adaptation premiered for free at Central Park’s Delacorte Theatre in New York City, and  went on to become a Broadway mainstay at the Gershwin Theatre for 772 performances. It was later adapted for a film that starred Kevin Kline, Angela Lansbury and Linda Ronstadt.
“It’s very over the top, very funny and light with lots of comedy and some excellent music,” Renard said.
Putting on a summer production presents unique challenges, she said.
“You would think it would be easier, but it’s really not. We have a condensed rehearsal schedule, so we rehearse Sunday through Thursday for about five weeks. The biggest obstacle is planning rehearsal schedules around everybody’s summer activities, but our students are really awesome and they give 110 percent so we can put on a show in a shorter period of time. We just have really intense rehearsals.”  
Overall, Renard said the summer production has gone extremely well. “We’re having fun and the kids are doing such a good job, and I know they are learning a lot about acting, singing and how to put on a show. We were fortunate enough to cast some opera students from Fort Hays State to star in the lead roles.”