Its hard to not find pirates exciting. Their adventurous lifestyle has been romanticized for generations and continues to this day. We all know Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Hook. ‘Talk like a pirate day’ is a Hallmark card away from being a legit holiday; and we all know what a pirate looks and sounds like – the eye-patch, cutlass, long hair, beard stubble, and the obligatory parrot…
My fascination with pirates is no different than anyone else’s. I remember the Pirates of the Caribbean ride from family excursions to Disney, Captain Blood – a great Errol Flynn film, and a much loved dog-eared copy of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island that I found in a box of books my mother found at a yard sale. I was likely about 10 years old and was on summer break and that book was the first book that I read that made me feel like a grown-up. Largely because of the age of the actual book I was reading.
I was hooked, like Jim Hawkins, the boy-hero of the story, I had a thirst for adventure that would take me around the world, reward me with wealth beyond my imagination, and allow for my untested heroic mettle to be unleashed… I read the book several times. I have seen many film adaptations, and when the opportunity came up to bring this show to life on Parkway’s stage, I was ready.
I think what is exciting about this story are its characters. We will never meet a pirate, per se, but the prospect remains enchanting and evokes a time, at least for me, where the world I lived in was an unexplored place that was filled with possibility as well as potential danger. This story evokes a moment in my life when I was young enough to possess the whimsy and magical thinking of a child but old enough that I was anticipating, all too eagerly, the day that I would be viewed as a grown man; much like Jim Hawkins.
When we planned this production, I was really excited, and I put together a great cast that included all of the people you see on stage. Including Elijah Briggs, who at 14, shares much with his onstage character; including the courage and indefatigable energy of one who has just begun to realize his potential.
That said, as our rehearsal period drew near, the actor I had cast as Long John Silver, the literary pirate that all pirates (and a fast-food chain) are modeled on had to back out due to some unexpected obligations associated with finishing his masters degree. The Playhouse staff and I did a search, which was fruitless. Long story short, I ended up taking on this role myself and I was terrified. I really didn’t see myself in this role at all at first, but we really had no choice. So, Jenny Martin, a long time collaborator, joined the creative team for Treasure Island as a co-director, so that I would be unencumbered from having to direct myself, and off we went.
Now, as we are about to open, I and my cast-mates, are having a rip-roaring time with this huge yarn. I am no longer terrified of Long John, and finding this character was like putting on comfortable, well worn old leather boots. Re-discovering this story has been like finding a buried treasure from my past.
I hope you will join us for a great evening of entertainment as we bring old Long John, Billy Bones, Black Dog, Smollet, Trelawney, and the nightmarish devil, Blind Pew to life on stage.