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British to Yiddish at the Segal Centre

“This is England, circa 1890, where the British gentry are fair game for Gilbert’s razor sharp wit,” explains the director of Pirates of Penzance, Bryna Wasserman. “The star of the show, before anyone steps on stage is without a doubt, the translator.”

Gab Desmond plays Fayvl and Kerry-Anne Kutz is Malka photo: Randy Cole

Al Grand’s adaptation whimsically transforms the popular standard from British to Yiddish. The original English plot line remains intact with Frederic, an apprentice indentured to pirates until his 21st birthday, wooing Mabel, the Major General’s daughter, only to discover that he was born on a leap year and won’t be free to marry her until 1940.

In the Yiddish version, the Major General becomes the Groyser General, an Orthodox Jew and friend of Benjamin Disraeli. Mabel is Malka, Frederic becomes Fayvl, a Yeshiva student, and Ruth, the hard-of-hearing nursemaid who mistook her master’s instructions to apprentice the boy to a pilot (not pirate), becomes Rivke. To her, the wayfaring pirates brandishing their swords appear as a group of kosher butchers and the mayhem that ensues is pure Gilbert and Sullivan hijinks, replete with tongue-in-cheek satire and the legendary high-speed patter.

“It’s fun to go back and forth between the 19th century British silliness and sarcastic, campy Yiddish remarks – and remarkably smooth,” said an actor backstage.

Pirates of Penzance continues until June 16 at the Leanor and Alvin Segal Theatre, 5170 Côte Ste. Catherine. Tickets range from $17 to $44.

Call 514-739-7944.



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