As soon as he was selected set designer for the upcoming Watts Hall Community Players’ production of The Pirates of Penzance, Jim Cuthbertson knew he wanted to change the locale of the operetta. He had never designed a set before, but his interest in opera and his background as an illustrator combined to give him a new idea for the show. Originally, the British story took place on the coast of Cornwall during Victorian times, but Cuthbertson’s vision takes the action to the 1957 New Jersey shore.
Cuthbertson had been to operas staged by the Metropolitan Opera Company in which the original set was changed to a more updated scene. “As a fan of the Metropolitan Opera, I had seen new settings for centuries-old operas, so I knew it was being done and appreciated,” Cuthbertson said. BecauseThe Pirates of Penzance is in the public domain, he did not need permission to make a major change in the production’s setting. Of course, some of the lyrics have to be changed, especially those pertinent to place and to Queen Victoria.
Cuthbertson is one of the many community members who are volunteering their talents to the biggest production of each year for Watts Hall Community Players, the summer musical. Bill Hahn, retired innkeeper, is in charge of turning Cuthbertson’s vision into reality. Creative problem solving is his forte as he honed his skills helping to design and then construct sets for regional and state one-act competitions.
The musical will open on Friday, June 29th at 7 p.m. and be performed again on June 30th, July 6th and 7th at 7 p.m. On Sunday, July 1st, there will be a matinee at 3 p.m. Tickets are on sale at Athens Pizza, Thomaston; the Grasshopper Shop, Rockland; the State of Maine Cheese Company, Rockport; or online at wattspirates.eventbrite.com. They will also be sold at the door.
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