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Quaker Valley's 'Pirates of Penzance' readies for stage

| Wednesday, March 12, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Ralph Valenzi, brother of director Lou Valenzi, paints a piece of 'The Pirates of Penzance' set at Quaker Valley High School Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Performances for the spring musical will be March 20-22.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Quaker Valley junior Peter Heres rehearses a scene as the Pirate King with other castmates in 'The Pirates of Penzance' at the school Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Performances for the spring musical will be March 20-22.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
'The Pirates of Penzance' cast rehearses a scene at Quaker Valley High School Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Performances for the spring musical will be March 20-22.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Quaker Valley's Patrick Hughes and Mia Fox rehearses a scene as Frederic and Ruth, respectively, in 'The Pirates of Penzance' at the school Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Performances for the spring musical will be March 20-22.

When Quaker Valley High School's student actors open their spring musical next week, some theatergoers might recognize the operatic sounds.

About 50 performers, under the direction of Lou Valenzi, will revive “The Pirates of Penzance” — a show performed at Quaker Valley in 2004.

“It's a pretty outrageous production,” said Peter Heres, a junior, who portrays the Pirate King.

The story is based on the coast of Cornwall, where pirate apprentice Frederic (played by senior Patrick Hughes) prepares for his 21st birthday and a chance to leave the pirate gang. His plan is to destroy the group once he leaves. He eventually falls in love with a woman.

The show originally opened in 1879, and was created by Arthur Sullivan and W. S. Gilbert. It has been modernized over the years.

Heres called his role of the Pirate King “manic,” adding that Frederic is like a son to the king.

Heres said he is excited to revive a show the school did a decade ago.

“I don't think people will know the show, but it was done 10 years ago here,” he said. “A lot of people who saw it 10 years ago are thrilled to come back and see it. It's kind of like a remake.”

For senior K.J. Devlin, the show marks his seventh and final production at Quaker Valley.

“It's a pretty big sense of absolution,” said Devlin, who portrays the Major General. “I've watched the seniors graduate and hand off the reigns, and now it's me.”

Devlin said he'll miss his time as a student actor at Quaker Valley, but is thankful for the experience.

“I've amassed a lot of skills that can help toward being a successful person in life,” he said.

One of Devlin's early roles at Quaker Valley was a picture frame in a middle school production of “Honk,” he said.

“I had to stand still for 12 minutes — that's been the hardest role of my career,” Devlin said, laughing.

This year's show has been demanding.

“We've faced different challenges each year,” Devlin said. “Musically, this is a very challenging show.

“Early on, I had thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I have so little lines this year, it's going to be so easy.' But you make up for it with the amount of lyrics. So that hit me a little bit.”

For Nicholas Medich, the show marks his final production at Quaker Valley.

“It's definitely a sad moment when you realize you're never going to be doing this again,” said Medich, who portrays the role of Sergeant of Police.

“But I think one of the most interesting things that I did not expect was the realization that most of the people I've done the show with the past three years aren't in the show anymore because they've graduated. Every year has been so different.”

What sets this year's show apart from previous productions is footwork, Medich said.

“The difference this year is that this show doesn't have as much dancing as last year,” he said. “For me, it's always been about the dancing. It's a lot of singing.”

Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 orrcherry@tribweb.com.

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