“The Pirates of Penzance” will drop anchor at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center on Friday. As they do so, they’ll have Mark Hanna, the very model of a modern pirate expert, accompanying them on stage.
The University of California San Diego faculty member is in town to give pre-show talks throughout the weekend as a University of Missouri–St. Louis cast of singing seadogs, star-crossed lovers and mermaids perform the humorous Gilbert and Sullivan opera.
He also joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh on Thursday for a conversation all about pirates – those that sailed the seas centuries ago and in more contemporary times.
During the discussion, Hanna emphasized the role that pirates played in the development of the British Empire, with many such lawless seafarers in the 16th and 17th centuries becoming an integral part of colonial communities along the shores.
He also touched on modern-day pirates as well as some common myths about these figures of legend and lore.
Walking the plank? Wasn’t really a thing, Hanna said. But keeping animals as pets was common, he added, as were missing limbs.
“In a rough life at sea, if you are injured in your leg or your arm, typical surgeon’s tools in the 17th century consisted of saws,” Hanna explained. “So you’re not going to keep that appendage very long.”
What: The Pirates of Penzance, presented by UMSL Opera Theatre
When: Friday, Saturday and Sunday (March 16-18)
Where: Touhill Performing Arts Center (1 University Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63121)
St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.