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A new pirate to fear?

Everyone has heard of Blackbeard, Calico Jack, Anne Bonny and Captain Jack Sparrow, but now there’s a new pirate to turn audiences into a shivering mass.

Captain Braid Beard, the head of the crew of pirates landing ashore in Halifax County Little Theatre’s upcoming musical, “How I Became a Pirate,” is the new pirate to fear. Or is he?

Theatre veteran Richard Grendahl is assuming the role of Braid Beard and is learning all the appropriate pirate lingo that goes along with the responsibility.  Phrases like “Avast Ye,” or “You’ll get the hempen halter” might come out of his mouth at any moment.  The other thing coming out of Grendahl’s mouth is the wonderful sounds he makes as he sings the pirate songs, for Grendahl is truly a musician.

Theatre-goers might remember him from Little Theatre’s 2011 production of “A Christmas Carol,” in which he played the jolly Ghost of Christmas Present.  More recently, Grendahl was one of the kings in The Prizery’s production of “Amahl and the Night Visitors.”  

He also has been in several shows with Clarksville Little Theatre, playing Judd in “Oklahoma,” Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof,” and the Ghost of Christmas Present in “Scrooge, the Musical.”  

Director Sandy Slayton chose well in tapping Grendahl to play Braid Beard.

A native of Moscow, Idaho, and a music and voice major at the University of Idaho, Grendahl ended up in Virginia after serving in the Navy on the submarine force.  

For the past 10 years, he has been a minister for Boydton and Easters United Methodist Churches.  He and his wife, Claire, are the parents of two sons, Eric and Joseph, both of whom seem to have received their father’s talents for singing and acting.  

In spite of people’s usual feelings about stereotypical pirates – murderous, thieving thugs – Grendahl is quick to point out that “These are different pirates.”  These pirates are funny, and Braid Beard is a joy to portray.  

Grendahl said, “Braid Beard sees himself as really fierce and awesome, but none of these pirates really are!”  

The pirates’ encounter with young Jeremy Jacobs, as they search for pirate booty, turns into a learning experience for both the pirates and the lad.  

Audiences will enjoy the pirates’ learning experience also, and there might be a few new pirate lovers created through this show.  

Opening night is Friday, April 19, at 7:30, followed by Saturday night and Sunday afternoon performances.  The following weekend, April 26 and 27, the show will run Friday night and then Saturday morning at 10 a.m., followed by lunch with the pirates upstairs, where pirates-to-be can eat and have their pictures taken with Braid Beard and his gang.