Roundabout to Stage ‘Pirates of Penzance’ and ‘Yellow Face’ on Broadway

Roundabout to Stage ‘Pirates of Penzance’ and ‘Yellow Face’ on Broadway

“We’re here, and we’re producing, and we’re producing some exciting stuff,” said Scott Ellis, a longtime Haimes collaborator who is serving as Roundabout’s interim artistic director, and who is expected to stay in that role for at least two years. “It felt important to say that we’re committed to producing as many shows as we used to.”

“The Pirates of Penzance,” a comedy about an indentured pirate apprentice who falls in love with a military officer’s daughter, was once a staple of American theater, and it has been staged a whopping 26 times on Broadway, starting in 1879. But the last Broadway revival was in 1981.

This new production, directed by Ellis, features a reconceived book, score and setting — it is to be set in New Orleans, with a framing device imagining that Gilbert and Sullivan staged “The Pirates of Penzance” there. The script has been adapted and updated (the female characters are more capable than in historic productions, for example) by Rupert Holmes, who has also written some new lyrics; the score has been reorchestrated with jazz stylings by Joseph Joubert and Daryl Waters.

The show is to star Ramin Karimloo, last seen on Broadway in a 2022 revival of “Funny Girl,” and David Hyde Pierce, best known for the television show “Frasier” and now featured Off Broadway, at the Shed, in Stephen Sondheim’s posthumous musical, “Here We Are.” Karimloo will play the Pirate King, while Pierce will play Major General Stanley as well as Gilbert, who is now a character explaining to the audience the adaptation’s conceit. The two test-drove the roles at a one-night Roundabout benefit concert in 2022.

The production of “Yellow Face,” which is to start performances in September, will star Daniel Dae Kim, who in 2016 played the King of Siam in a Broadway revival of “The King and I” and is an alumnus of the television shows “Lost” and the “Hawaii Five-0” reboot. The play is to be directed by Leigh Silverman, who in 2007 directed productions of it in Los Angeles (at the Mark Taper Forum) and New York (at the Public Theater). Kim recently recorded an audio version of the play for Audible, also directed by Silverman.

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