I WAS ONCE IN A PRODUCTION OF Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance; a two-act operetta revolving around a young man named Frederic, whose sad fate has him mistakenly apprenticed to a pirate instead of a pilot, and bound to this duty until his 21st birthday.
The merry mix-up only gets further mixing when, fresh into his newly-obtained freedom and falling in love with the cadenza-trilling Mabel, it is revealed that Frederic is not in fact 21 but is "a little boy of five." Like myself, Frederic was born on the 29th of February; an inconvenient fact that binds him back to pirate apprenticeship, with freedom still but leap years away.
Why I love it: apart from celebrating that most ingenious paradox of leap year and providing the world with the tongue-twisting, wordsmith-ing genius that is the Modern Major-General's Song, Pirates of Penzance makes an instant fan out of me for promoting the value of duty, the glory of poetry and the possibility of reform.
To all poor wandering ones gone astray, take heart, fair days will shine. And to all leap year babies, rejoice! It's a leap year February!
I trill out a cadenza for you.
The Pirates of Penzance, 1983. Directed by Wilfor Leach. Lyrics by William S. Gilbert, music by Arthur Sullivan.