Blondell Packs a Vibrant ‘Pirates’ into Porter

PIrates Poster resizeArtistic dynamos John Blondell, Westmont professor of theater arts, and Michael Shasberger, Adams professor of music and worship, have combined forces, collaborating on the production of a comic operetta. About 30 student-actors/musicians will perform “Pirates of Penzance,” written by W.S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan, Oct. 17-19, 23, and 26-27 at 7 p.m. General admission is $15; $10 for students, children and seniors. Tickets may be purchased online at or by calling (805) 565-7140.

Blondell, who directs the show, says it has been a joy collaborating with Shasberger, student conductor Andrew Combs, Danila Korogodsky (scenography) and Victoria Finlayson (choreography). He says he was attracted to “Pirates” for several reasons.

“I had never done a comic operetta,” he says, “so the prospect seemed new and fresh and also rather scary. I enjoy breathing fresh life into plays that we think we know. I wanted to make something fresh and vibrant, and that was satisfying on dramatic, theatrical and musical levels.”

For a moment, Blondell and Shasberger considered a big cast, full orchestra and larger venue. “I was interested in what it meant to play the play in Porter Theatre — in the intimate environment where action and music are very close to the audience. The entire approach to the show, then, led me to make decisions based on what it meant to do a chamber version of the show.

“I think the show is going to be terrifically performed, vibrantly sung, beautifully acted and will have scenery, costumes and choreography that are both appropriate to the material and also very modern. I have high hopes for this show — I am constantly and consistently inspired by our students and collaborators. In some ways, I don’t want it to open, because that will mean that my work with it is over.”