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Last Chance to Catch ‘Pirates of Penzance’

Swashbuckling pirates invade Northwestern through Aug. 2

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Time is running out to see the show audiences are raving about -- Gilbert and Sullivan’s imaginative and hilarious operetta “The Pirates of Penzance” -- in its final performances at Northwestern University through Aug. 2.

The interactive production, ripe with videos and projections, invites the audience to join in the fun by singing along and engaging in social media -- leaving one spectator saying, “It is the most fun I've had at a performance in recent memory.”

“The Pirates of Penzance” is being performed as part of Northwestern’s Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts 2014 SummerStage Season. (The center was formerly known as the Theatre and Interpretation Center at Northwestern University, or TIC for short.)

“There is a lot of sword fighting and audience engagement in a playful experience that blends the Victorian era within the modern age unlike anything the audience has ever experienced at Northwestern,” said director and fight choreographer Matt Hawkins, a founding member of The House Theatre of Chicago.

After the show, ticket holders can head over to The Celtic Knot Public House for a special “Pirates of Penzance” summer drink, free with the purchase of an entree.

Final performances of “The Pirates of Penzance” will be staged at the Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus. They will take place at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1, and 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2. The production is recommended for children ages eight and older and adults.

The beauty and whimsy of Gilbert and Sullivan’s classic score is suffused with a modern sensibility, comic timing and top-notch singing performed by a Northwestern University student cast. As funny and as entertaining today as it was when it first opened in 1879, “The Pirates of Penzance” spins a farce of sentimental pirates, bumbling policemen, dim-witted young lovers, dewy-eyed daughters and an eccentric Major-General, all morally bound to the often absurd dictates of honor and duty.  

“This is a streamlined operetta that focuses on a highly imaginative and fun world where the actors and musicians are the focus of the storytelling and the show can be anything we want it to be,” Hawkins said.

Tickets for the Wirtz Center’s “The Pirates of Penzance” are $30 for the general public; $27 for seniors over 62, educators and Northwestern faculty and staff; and $10 for full-time students with valid IDs (at the door) or $5 tickets exclusively for full-time Northwestern students with advance purchase. Discounts are available for groups of eight or more. 

For more information or to order tickets, phone 847-491-7282, visit the Wirtz Center website or email


A three-year construction project underway on the southeast end of the Northwestern University Evanston campus has closed the Arts Circle Drive to traffic. Free parking for evening and weekend events remains available, but the project will impact handicapped parking and patrons requiring special access to Evanston campus theaters. Visit the Wirtz Center for more information. 

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