March 25, 2014

Review: Treasure chest of laughs at Casa’s ‘How I Became a Pirate’

Even before the first “Matey!”you could feel the excitement building.

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Even before the first “Matey!” was tossed out, you could feel the audience’s excitement building at Casa Mañana’s “How I Became a Pirate” production.

I mean, hello!? We’re talking pirates here! A topic so enthralling that it’s been the focus of popular children’s stories, shows, and movies (think “Peter Pan” and “Jake and The Never Land Pirates”) and even the Academy Award-nominated film, “Captain Phillips.”

So when Casa Mañana puts on a production of “How I Became a Pirate,” based on the book by the same name, you go. You dress up your children in their best pirate gear. You buy them plastic swords that light up. And you embarrass them by talking like a pirate in the hours leading up to the play and in the hours thereafter.

The story revolves around Jeremy Jacob, played by Stephen Newton, who is recruited to join a a band of lost pirates after they find him on the beach and notice his fine digging skills.

Though the only child in the production, Newton held his own among his grown-up counterparts, giving an authentic performance that was confident yet not over-acted.

The pirates teach Jacob about life as a pirate, including their unique way of talking. He learns about the appealing aspects of piratehood (like not having to brush your teeth!) to the not-so-appealing aspects ( like having green teeth.)

Jacob, in turn, teaches the pirates the rules of soccer and ultimately finds them the perfect burial site for their treasure.

The production was full of energy and laughs. Like you’d expect, the pirates, led by Captain Braid Beard (Greg Dulcie), gave lively performances, complete with the catchy songs and dances and lots of one-liners. With names like Scurvy Dog and Seymour Branchschwagger, the pirates’ looks and costumes were so authentic you’ll swear you can smell them from your seats.

Sharktooth the Pirate, played by Jonathan Bragg, almost stole the show with his solo, “I’m Really Just a Sensitive Guy.” The song showcased not only his beautiful voice but hilarious ballerina-like dance moves that had even the adults in stitches.

The only downfall — with all the group singing, pirate accents, and the sometimes distracting background noise (Jacob’s sister crying and a storm) — catching every lyric was, at times, a challenge.

While that may have sometimes strained mom’s ears, it didn’t seem to damper the kids’ fun who thought the play was “Arghhhhhh-right!”

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