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Abigail Corbett and Petty Officer 1st Class James Stilipec play two of the lead roles, Mabel and Frederic, in the Mokuteki Theatre Group's production "The Pirates of Penzance." The show opened Friday night at Misawa Air Base, Japan.
Abigail Corbett and Petty Officer 1st Class James Stilipec play two of the lead roles, Mabel and Frederic, in the Mokuteki Theatre Group's production "The Pirates of Penzance." The show opened Friday night at Misawa Air Base, Japan. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — The show must go on, albeit under a new name.

The Mokuteki Theatre Group, formerly the Misawa Theatre Guild, puts on its first post-change performance this weekend, “The Pirates of Penzance.” Once a private organization, the base’s community theater group now falls under the Mokuteki Community Center.

“It allows us better access to the stage we’ll be performing on, and it allows for continuity,” said James Wrede of the switch. “We have a lot of people transferring out this year.”

Wrede, who grew mutton-chop sideburns for his “Pirates” character, the police sergeant, is also the play’s director.

The Gilbert & Sullivan musical comedy tells the story of a young pirate apprentice named Frederic who, at the end of his indentured period, finds out he was indentured by mistake.

Petty Officer 1st Class James Stilipec, 33, is in his first starring role as Frederic. He’s had to learn more than 20 songs and stretch his vocal cords for the part.

“I sing bass,” Stilipec said. “They’re making me sing tenor for this. It’s right at the top of my range.”

The lead soprano belongs to Abigail Corbett, 24, an Air Force spouse, who plays Mabel, a maiden who falls in love with Frederic. Corbett is a classically trained vocalist with a college degree in vocal performance.

“I’m excited. This is my first time back to the stage in a couple of years for a full-scale production,” she said.

The cast and crew number about two dozen, a mix of active-duty members, civilians, spouses and children.

Staff Sgt. Chris Bueno, 32, works in the base hospital’s medical supply department by day, after hours stepping into the tall shoes of Major-General Stanley, a one-star general in the British army.

“It’s a good way to get involved in the community and to be able to give back to the base,” Bueno said.

“Pirates” opens Friday, followed by a show on Saturday, then one on April 25 and one on April 26. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. in the Mokuteki Community Center Ballroom, and the show starts at 7 p.m.

Advance tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children. At the door, it’s $10 for adults and $6 for children. Tickets may be purchased at the community center.

Wrede said the two-hour show is appropriate for all ages.

For anyone interested in participating in future community theater events, the theatre group meets at 7 p.m. the last Thursday of each month in the community center ballroom.

No acting experience is necessary. The group also needs set and costume designers.

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