By: Mary Fran Bontempo

Mix soft-hearted pirates, silly young girls, bumbling policemen, sappy lovers, soaring voices, a timeless musical score, a modern major general and an intimate theater in Bucks County and what do you get?

Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operetta, The Pirates of Penzance, playing now through Sunday at the Bristol Riverside Theater in Bristol, PA.

Long a favorite of theatrical groups, The Pirates of Penzance presents a struggling band of pirates (with a soft-spot for orphans), determined to retain a mistakenly indentured apprentice who is eager to sever ties with the sea-faring outlaws. When escapee, Frederick, meet and falls in love with the golden-voiced Mabel, the pirate crew follows him, attempting to take Mabel’s sisters as brides.

The girls’ father, modern Major-General Stanley, concocts the lie that he is an orphan to escape from the pirates, who later learn of the ruse through Frederick, bound by a warped sense of honor and duty to betray Mabel and her family. Culminating in a battle between the hapless pirates and the even more hapless police, the conflict resolves as all players stand on a contrived sense of ceremony and honor.

Yes, it sounds silly, and it is. And, as presented by the cast at the Bristol Riverside Theater in Bristol, PA, it’s great fun.

Since 1986, the Bristol Riverside Theater has presented professional productions in an intimate, 300 seat building situated on the banks of the Delaware River. Located in downtown Bristol Borough, the theater has charm, well-done productions, and a lovely view of the river from the theater’s lobby.

Currently in its 26th season, the theater presents 243 productions annually, including major stage shows, special events, a musical summer series, a play reading series and a summer camp.

I am a movie fan, but honestly, nothing beats a live theatrical production (as the recent movie release of Les Miserables proves). Bristol also hosts a live orchestra, an additional treat as much theatrical music is now taped.

BRT’s next main stage production is Inherit the Wind, running from May 21st through June 9th. Other special events include Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show, Legally Blonde: the Musical, and several children’s productions, among others. Check out BRT’s calendar of events.

Local community theater offers theater lovers an opportunity to enjoy first rate productions at a fraction of the cost of Broadway and other large venues. Be sure to check out offerings at your local theaters, and if you’re in Bucks County, PA, visit the Bristol Riverside Theater. Get there before Sunday and take your chances with a merry band of misfits. If you tell them you’re an orphan, they may even ask you to join the crew.