Tamara Wilhelm plays ‘Mabel’ and Shane Hanson is ‘Frederic’ in the Chilliwack Opera Troupe’s presentation of Pirates of Penzance.

Tamara Wilhelm plays ‘Mabel’ and Shane Hanson is ‘Frederic’ in the Chilliwack Opera Troupe’s presentation of Pirates of Penzance.

New opera troupe flies pirate flag

The brand-new Chilliwack Opera troupe presents its inaugural show this weekend, The Pirates of Penzance.

The brand-new Chilliwack Opera troupe is ready to present its inaugural show, The Pirates of Penzance.

The troupe is both pleased and proud to be offering the well-known comic opera Aug. 18-21 at the Cultural Centre, in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert.

The Pirates story follows Frederic who is finally about to be released from his long apprenticeship to a band of tender-hearted pirates. He meets Mabel, the daughter of Major-General Stanley, and it’s love at first sight. Frederic finds out he was born on a leap year and consequently must stay indentured to serve another 63 arduous years.

The dutiful Frederic’s only solace is that Mabel agrees to wait for him.

The new local opera troupe boasts 70 cast members, musicians, volunteers and staff.

“The troupe has an energy that has been going strong since its inception,” says co-founder Paula deWitt-Krause.

She along with her son, Bevin van Liempt, felt there was an obvious need to fill an operatic niche in town.

“The troupe is flourishing with talent!,” says DeWitt-Krause.

Brothers Lyndon and Forrest Schuster drive to each Chilliwack rehearsal from Abbotsford. They are both in the chorus of police and this is the teens’ first production.

Kevin Andrews is from a musical family, and plays flute and percussion in the orchestra. His wife, Deborah, co-produces and their two daughters Jessica, chorus and Becka, assistant stage manager are loving the chance to work together as a family, she says.

DeWiitt-Krause along with her two sons Bevin and Logan van Liempt are a few of the family ties in the group. Bevin, a co-founder, is also taking on the lead role, the Sergeant of Police, while Logan is in the chorus and plays the role of a pirate in the first half and policeman in the second.

Husband and wife team of Laura and Shaun Purves are members of the chorus. “After Laura successfully auditioned for the show she had no difficulty at all recruiting her husband, Shaun, when he heard of the opportunity to wear the Policeman’s uniform,” she says.

Director James McGroarty is no stranger to Gilbert and Sullivan.

“He graciously accepted the offer to direct this production and brought with him his lovely talented daughter, Kathleen, to the auditions,” she says.

Kathleen earned the role of Edith, while the seasoned and experienced Pauline, another daughter, came on board as a co-choreographer.

Barb Neeve is enjoying her first Gilbert and Sullivan show in the chorus of daughters, and her son is busy helping making sets.

“The group is such a pleasure to work,” says. DeWitt-Krause.

“We have a husband and wife in the orchestra as well.”

Professional flutist Bernard Blary and his French Horn playing wife drive in loyally from Vancouver for each rehearsal.

“The whole group feels like my family and I often tease that I want to adopt them all and take them home with me,” she adds.

Pirates of Penzance, at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre, August 18-21, 7:30 p.m. with a Sunday afternoon show at 2 p.m. Tickets $30/$25/$20, Two for One Preview August 16 and 17, www.chilliwackcultu​ralcentre.ca or call 604-391-7469 or 604-795-0521 for all other inquiries, www.chilliwackoperatroupe.com