SWASHBUCKLING schoolchildren are taking to the big stage.
Ambitious Lepton pupils are putting on the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta the Pirates of Penzance in Huddersfield Town Hall.
Children at Lepton C of E Junior, Infant and Nursery School are staging a full production on March 15 next year.
About 100 pupils will take part in the production, for which preparations were launched at the school this week.
To mark the start of the project children turned up in pirate costumes and, along with governors and staff, indulged in a singalong of G&S classics.
The production was the idea of acting head teacher Helen Lever, who has performed in Gilbert and Sullivan productions.
She said: "G&S is a great way to get children interested in music and theatre. It has colour, humour and strong melodies.
"Pupils who might not want to perform can contribute in such vital areas as costumes, scenery, publicity and front of house."
Over the next two terms, pupils will get weekly visits from representatives of the Gilbert and Sullivan Festival, which takes place in Buxton every year.
They will teach the pupils the music and how to perform it.
Neil Smith, who founded the festival with his father, Ian 12 years ago, is working with the school on the production.
He said: "We are delighted to be working with the school because we know how much fun youngsters derive from G&S.
"This will be an exciting project, with that target of a full- scale show in the town hall as encouragement for everyone."
The school will also be helped by the Halifax-based International Gilbert and Sullivan Association.
The non-profit company grew from the G&S Festival and supports projects which involve young people in Gilbert and Sullivan's work.
The association will be providing musical theatre tuition to the pupils and finding adult performers for some main roles.
The Pirates of Penzance, which had its first performance in Paignton in 1879, tells the story of Frederic, who was apprenticed as a child to a band of tenderhearted pirates until reaching his 21st birthday.
The musical joins Frederic as he is celebrating completing his final year of apprenticeship. But just as he is looking forward to leaving piracy and rejoining polite society he discovers he was born on February 29 in a leap year - meaning he is not free!
Added to his struggle for freedom are the antics of a cowardly constabulary, a major general who is a military failure and his beautiful, unmarried daughters.