WNCC's 'Pirates of Penzance' sails to Fernley and Yerington

Pirates will drop anchor next week, of all places, in landlocked Fernley and Yerington.

These pirates sing and bumble about in a land called Penzance, this perhaps accounting for how they're ending up in wayward Lyon County.

The Gilbert and Sullivan classic "Pirates of Penzance" takes to the stages of Fernley High School and the Jeanne Dini Yerington Cultural Center. Showtime in Fernley is at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 14 with two performaces in Yerington at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 15.

The production is a first-time venture into Lyon County for a troupe very familiar to theater-goers in Carson City and Lake Tahoe's south shore. Also, "Pirates" is the first road show for Western Nevada Musical Theater Co., which launches its 10th anniversary season with this production.

"There have been many time we have been asked to take a show to other cities," company founder Stephanie Arrigotti said. "None of the shows we've done we could do that with."

"Pirates" is in addition to WNMTC's standard two-show season at the Carson City Community Center. The show is a revival of sorts of a summer production at the Brewery Arts Center and the Tallac Boathouse.

Sierra Tahoe Theater Co. staged "Pirates" with a cast composed almost entirely of performers often appearing in WNMTC shows. All the leads will return for the Fernley and Yerington tour that will continue on to the Redfield Theater at the University of Nevada, Reno (Jan. 28-30) and Winnemucca Hall at Western Nevada Community College (Feb. 18-20).

"This is a way to reach new communities and hopefully expand our season ticket base," Arrigotti said.

At the same time, the Lyon County visit takes the show to WNCC satellite communities. The theater company is a WNCC program.

"We do, as a college, service a seven-county area," Arrigotti said.

Bob Grant, who has directed all of WNMTC's shows, will star as the Pirate King as well as co-direct with Arrigotti. Arrigotti herself will appear as Ruth along with produce the show.

Her daughter, Maria Arrigotti, and Chris Kuszmaul play the young romantic leads. WNMTC stalwarts John Hall and Scott Anderson portray a pirate and police sergeant, respectively, and Douglas Sprague makes his company debut as the major-general.

"It's a tremendously fun show," Arrigotti said. "It has great music."

The arts communities in Fernley and Yerington are abuzz with anticipation.

"There will be a huge response because we haven't had a musical before," said Debbie Arrighi, chairman of the operations comittee at the Jeanne Dini Yerington Cultural Center.

The Dini Center is a 150-seat theater built into the former Yerington Grammar School No. 9. By some accounts, it the best small theater in Northern Nevada.

The center opened in January 1998 but has been in full operation for only the past year. The Yerington Theater for the Arts has five subscription performances a year at the center, plus a matinee series added this fall, said Susan Rogers, the group's director.

Rogers welcomes the "Pirates of Penzance" production.

"It's wonderful because we can't afford to bring professional theater out here," Rogers said. "I expect it to be very well received. In January there's not much going on."

WNMTC is not a professional company, but this community college class puts professional quality performances on the stage. Often, people attending the Broadway series in Reno prefer the Carson City productions.

"Pirates" will play a role in building the arts programs in both Fernley and Yerington. Fernley doesn't have a theater but it does have a Fernley Little Theatre troupe that performs in a variety of locations, most recently Fernley High School.

"The 'Pirates' peformance brings up the fact that we really need a center that can provide a place to do these things," said Marion Streczyn, executive director of Fernley Little Theatre.

Streczyn for the past three years has doggedly tried to raise interest and money to build a theater in Fernley or move into an empty building. She has her eye on the Fernley Depot or the new Scolari's shopping center coming next year as possible theater sites.

"We have companies coming here like Amazon.com that expect this kind of culture," Streczyn said.

What: "Pirates of Penzance," operetta by Gilbert and Sullivan

Where: Fernley High School and Jeanne Dini Yerington Cultural Center

When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 14 in Fernley, 3 and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 15 in Yerington. Also, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 28 and 29 and 2 p.m. Jan. 30 at Redfield Theater at University of Nevara, Reno, and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18 and 19 and 2 p.m. Feb. 20 at Winnemucca Hall at Western Nevada Community College.

Who: Western Nevada Musical Theater Co. in Carson City goes on its first tour.

Cost: $10

Phone: 887-3115 in Carson City, 575-3409 in Fernley, 463-2412 in Yerington.


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