May & Alia do Pirates! (of Penzance) at Edmonton Fringe

May & Alia do Pirates! (of Penzance)
Ritchie Community League (7727 98 street) August August 15 – 23 (every day)
More information: www.mayandalia.com


An interview with May Jasper.

Describe your show in five words. 

Extremely silly clowning puppetering musical

Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description?

We’ve proudly brought a full-cast, Australian version of Pirates of Penzance on tour. Unfortunately, someone (it totally wasn’t Alia…honest) maybe, probably, definitely forgot to tell the rest of them what time the flight was, and now there’s just two gals with their trousers tucked into their socks, ready to do the whole show by themselves.  Luckily, we’ve packed the props suitcase and have an assortment of plastic swords, silly hats and terrible accents ready to help us tell the story, and sing all the classic songs.

The Pirates of Penzance is a comic opera with a huge cast – how did you go about approaching the idea of turning this into a two-woman show?

Both of us did musicals in high school, and thought it would be fun to do that again. To be honest, we couldn’t think of anyone else who’d want to do it with us, so we came up with a solution: let’s just do the whole thing with only the two of us!.  The idea seemed silly enough, and we love silly, so we developed the show. We’ve found that the show has flourished because of its limitations, which is something we didn’t really expect. If there were only two main characters to have to deal with, it wouldn’t be much of a challenge, would it? To help tell the story, we decided that both of us would tackle all the characters (rather than splitting them between the two of us) so you’ll get to see two versions of the Pirate King, two versions of Frederick and a battle over who gets to be the Modern Major General (And yes, we do encourage picking favorites…).

You’re touring the world with May and Alia do Pirates (of Penzance) and I’m curious: how, if at all, have audience reactions differed around the world? Have audience reactions been different than you expected?

We had been told (before coming to Canada last year) that Canadians were much less familiar with Gilbert and Sullivan shows than Australia, and that we might find it a challenge to find an audience.  Surprisingly we found the opposite! In Winnipeg in particular there was a very active G&S society, and lots of people knew Pirates and came to the show.  In Melbourne we’ve had a lot of ‘cool kids’ begrudgingly come to the show, thinking that it was going to be too goofy for them, but always came out of the show with big grins.

Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?

We are so incredibly proud of this show, and we’re excited to share it with more Canadian audiences. It’s an absolute joy to be able to do the thing you most love in the world, and to share it with other people.

It’s a fun show, and we love it when people sing along!

Bonus question: Any names you want to drop who have been involved in your show (Edmonton arts people or otherwise)?

No specific names – but thank you to all the Canadian Fringe artists who have given us advice on how to tour the circuit and everyone who’s given us such generous hospitality on our journeys.

The 33rd Edmonton International Fringe is August 14 – 24. Get your tickets at tickets.fringetheatre.ca

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