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‘Pirates’ all grown up

A scene from "Pirates of Penzance," which opens tonight through June 19 at Off Center Stage in Grass Valley.
Photo by Karen Busse |

KNOW AND GO

WHO: It’s A GAS! Theatre Troupe (www.itsagastheatre.com)

WHAT: Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance”

WHERE: The Off Center Stage at the Center for the Arts, 315 Richardson St., Grass Valley.

WHEN: Thursday, June 9 at 8 p.m., all seats $10; Friday, June 10 at 8 p.m., $15 (general) and $12 (seniors/students); Saturday, June 11 at 8 p.m. (Champagne Gala Fundraiser -- all tickets are $20 and include champagne, dessert, and appetizers); Sunday, June 12 at 2 p.m., $15 (general) and $12 (seniors/students); Thursday, June 16 at 8 p.m., $15 (general) and $12 (seniors/students); “Dress Like a Pirate” Friday, June 17 at 8 p.m., pirates admitted for $8 and non-pirates are $15 (general) and $12 (seniors/students); Saturday, June 18 at 8 p.m., $15 (general) and $12 (seniors/students); Sunday, June 19 at 2 p.m., $15 (general) and $12 (seniors/students).

TICKETS/INFO: Purchase tickets at http://www.thepiratesofpenzance.brownpapertickets.com, http://www.itsagastheatre.com, and The Book Seller, or call 530-273-8324.

The Nevada County Performing Arts Guild has been cultivating the talents of young performers for more than three decades.

But this month, it’s the grownups behind the scenes that are taking to the stage for their version of an encore performance of “The Pirates of Penzance.”

The guild performed “Pirates” earlier this year, with a younger cast. Mila Johansen, artistic director for PAG, and Yvette Cadeaux, decided they wanted to do an adult version of the operetta.



The performance is brought to life by It’s A GAS! Theater Troupe and is a benefit for PAG.

Cadeaux, whose entire family is active in PAG, is the executive director of this month’s production and executive producer of It’s A GAS.




“We really want people to understand this is not a kid’s show. Most of the cast is over 18, featuring PAG veterans and alumni,” she said.

Johansen and Cadeaux are among the founders of It’s A GAS (a play on an acronym for Gilbert and Sullivan, whose work they primarily perform).

The troupe formed in 2015, and last year performed “Iolanthe” with substantial praise and success.

This year’s “Pirates of Penzance” will include eight performances over two weekends, June 9 – 19, at the Off Center Stage, 315 Richardson St., Grass Valley.

According to Johansen, who has adapted four Gilbert and Sullivan operettas for PAG, the duo was the precursor to Broadway.

“Their songs are so funny. I love shortening them a little and writing them for kids. They’re perfect for comedies and lend themselves from Broadway-ish (for kids) to opera (for adults),” she said.

“Pirates of Penzance” is the pair’s most popular collaboration. Having written 14 comic operettas between 1871 and 1896, the two are considered one the greatest theatrical teams in history. Cadeaux calls them the Lennon and McCartney of the 1800s.

Operettas consist of about one-third speaking and two-thirds music. Operas, by comparison, are comprised completely of music. For PAG, Johansen creates versions that are one-third music and two-thirds dialogue. This month’s performance will feature more music with complex dialogue. And while composed more than a century ago, Johansen notes that much of their material and insights are still relevant today, referring to a quote from Iolanthe:

“Liberal – Conservative. Conservative – Liberal. What’s the difference?” she said.

Johansen has performed in “Pirates” twice, the first time 25 years ago. This time around, she will take the stage as Ruth, while Cadeaux will play Edith.

“I’m so excited to be doing this,” Cadeaux said. “I’ve been a closet opera singer. I used to have stage fright, but not anymore. I’m excited to be up there. It will be fun to be up there with my kids.”

Cadeaux’s daughter, Camillle Cadeaux-Collings, will also serve as the musical director. The troupe’s biggest coup, however, was casting PAG veteran Sierra Dalluge in the leading role of Mabel.

Dalluge began performing with PAG when she was about 5 years old and first played Mabel when she was just 13.

“Even at 13 she had an incredible operatic soprano,” Cadeaux said. Rediscovering Dalluge was serendipitous. The It’s A GAS group was holding a production meeting and happened to notice Dalluge walking by at just the right moment.

“We knew we had a show on our hands once we cast Sierra,” she added.

“Returning to PAG and playing the role of Mabel once again is like a dream. Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance was my favorite play that I had performed in as a child,” Dalluge said. “I still had Mabel’s main solo memorized since years ago. I am thrilled for the opportunity to sing my heart out alongside other amazing performers.”

For more information, or to purchase tickets visit, http://www.itsagastheatre.com or call 530-273-8324.

Katrina Paz is a Nevada County freelance writer.


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