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The Pilot Project

Are you no longer the right type for your dream soprano diva role? Have you passed the age range for that juicy tenor lead? Do you think yourself too callow for that iconic comic character part?

Well, think again!

The University of Michigan Gilbert &Sullivan Society (UMGASS) is holding auditions for The Pilot Project, or Return to Duty, on Tuesday, May 2 nd and Thursday, May 4 th , from 6:00 – 9:00 pm, at the Student Theater Arts Complex (STAC), 1201 Kipke Drive, Ann Arbor (near the U-M stadium). This adapted libretto is designed as a sequel to The Pirates of Penzance, set 44 years after the original, using Sullivan’s original score. It will be presented concert style on June 9 th and June 10 th at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre in the Michigan League building in Ann Arbor.

All principal and chorus roles from Pirates have equivalents (by voice part) in The Pilot Project, however some characters are 44 years older than in the original (e.g., Frederic is now 65, rather than 21), and some are younger descendants of the original roles (see the Character Descriptions at the end of this posting).


Cast members will be selected from the audition pool with no pre-casting.
Affiliation with the University of Michigan is not required.


To sign up for an audition time, and/or  to receive audition forms in advance, please contact the UMGASS Executive Board at

The Pilot Project will be directed by David Andrews, who in December 2022 directed the Society’s 75 th anniversary production of The Pirates of Penzance – his 10 th time in the director’s chair for UMGASS. Music Director for this production will be Nada Radakovich, who recently directed the Society’s 2022 production of The C.E.O., a modern adaptation of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado. Ms. Radakovich is a popular choir director and in-demand vocal coach in Genesee County.

Audition requirements:

  • Prepare ~32-64 bars of a selection from musical theater, comic opera, or opera (in English), and provide a legible copy for the accompanist.

  • Be prepared to read from the libretto if you are interested in a speaking role.

  • There will be no dance audition for this concert style show.

  • Please contact the UMGASS Board at if you would prefer to submit a recorded video audition by Wednesday, May 3 rd , 2023.


Please note:

  • Masks may be required at auditions and rehearsals, depending on the evolving public health situation.

  • Current plans call for all performances to be unmasked.

  • Walk-ins are welcome in the first two hours of the audition period each night.

  • Please wear a mask in the common areas of the audition locale as a courtesy to other performers. Masks will be available on-site.


Rehearsal and production dates:

  • The first rehearsal is scheduled for Sunday, May 7 th . Scripts will be available at this rehearsal or at STAC during the following week, for those not able to attend on 5/7.

  • Music rehearsals will be held two days per week for the full ensemble at STAC. Principals may be called for additional dialogue or music rehearsals as necessary.

  • Production dates are June 9 – 10, 2023, at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre in the Michigan League, in concert-style, accompanied by piano.

Answers to questions regarding the production and the audition process, as well as a PDF copy of the libretto, are available at

The Pilot Project

Character Descriptions:

FREDERIC – Vocals: Tenor – Age/appearance: mid-60s
Frederic is the same character from The Pirates of Penzance, 44 years older than in the original libretto. Frederic is now a boat pilot on the Great Lakes, and is still a slave of duty. Frederic and Mabel have been separated for some time, but their old feelings remain.

MABEL – Vocals: Soprano – Age/appearance: early 60s
Mabel is also the same character from ‘Pirates,’ now 44 years older than in the original. Mabel is the President of ‘Temperance International,’ a group that advocates for the prohibition of alcohol. Mabel has been separated from Frederic, but longs to be reconciled.

RICH TYCOON – Vocals: Baritone or Bass – Age/appearance: 30s to mid-40s
The Rich Tycoon is the eldest child of the Pirate King, and is a pirate of the “cheating world…where pirates all are well-to-do.” The Rich Tycoon owns the shipping company for which Frederic is a pilot.

RUTH – Vocals: Alto or Mezzo – Age/appearance: mid- to late-20s
Ruth is the grandniece of the original pirate ‘maid of all-work,’ and (like her great-aunt) is in (unrequited) love with Frederic. Ruth works as the Executive Secretary for the Rich Tycoon.

SENATOR STANLEY – Vocals: Baritone – Age/appearance: early- to mid-30s
Senator Stanley is an ‘interim’ U.S. Senator, appointed to fill the term of his predecessor. The Senator is hesitant to take a stand on any issue, to prevent alienating any portion of the electorate. Also, the Senator’s resume seems to have been padded a bit, to say the least.

EDITH – Vocals: Soprano – Age/appearance: any age (adult)

KATE – Vocals: Mezzo – Age/appearance: any age (adult)
Kate and Edith are prominent staff members in Senator Stanley’s office. They are
(nominally) members of Temperance International, an anti-alcohol, pro-prohibition organization, but they and their fellow staffers like to sneak out for a few drinks whenever possible.

SAMUEL – Vocals: Baritone – Age/appearance: any age (adult)
Samuel is the CFO of the Rich Tycoon’s shipping company, who keeps the alternate sets of books that hide its illegal rum-running activities from the government.

CAPTAIN of the COAST GUARD – Vocals: Baritone or Bass – any age (adult)
The Coast Guard Captain, along with his crew, are responsible for preventing illegal shipments of alcohol from entering the U.S. under ‘prohibition,’ although none of them are particularly enthusiastic about the job.



U.S. COAST GUARD – Vocals: T/B/B chorus

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