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Women play big part of ‘Pirate’ production

Just because there weren’t many lady pirates in history doesn’t mean that there aren’t any running around on The Prizery stage. Halifax County Little Theatre is currently in rehearsal with their spring show, “How I Became a Pirate.”

The show is directed by Sandy Slayton, musically directed by Cari Mahan, choreographed by Patricia Crew and stars Halifax County High School senior Elisabeth Brogden. 

“I’ve never been in a show where I get to use an accent, and I love the concept of using voices that aren’t my own for a character,” Brogden said. “I also wanted to do another show with Halifax County Little Theatre before I go to college.”

Brogden portrays Max, a somewhat delusional character. 

“As Max, I always have a parrot on my shoulder that’s obviously not real, but I think it’s real, and no one has the heart to tell me Petey’s fake. It’s really fun being the only girl pirate because Max will highlight that not only boys like pirates, but girls do too.

“The hardest thing for the whole group is dancing and singing at the same time, but prepare to laugh and leave with all the songs stuck in your head because they’re catchy,” Brogden said.

Musical Director Cari Mahan not only enjoys the music for this show, but points out a very important message in the story.

“This is going to be a great show for the whole family,” Mahan said. “The adults will get the underlying humor that happens at times, and the kids will love the pirates. There is a family theme that runs throughout because Jeremy Jacob is excited about being a pirate, but he misses the familiarity of home and family. Families won’t want to miss it.”

With two young sons who enjoy pirate lore and the books on which this play is based, Mahan has some expertise about storybook pirates. “This show in particular sheds a whole new light on pirates because it explains that pirates can be anywhere. You just have to use your imagination to find them.”

Director Sandy Slayton chose this show for all ages.

“I was already a fan of the children’s book, and we had had lots of fun reading ‘How I Became a Pirate’ and its sequels in my kindergarten class at school,” Slayton said.

“Storybook Pirates have widespread popularity among kids of all ages, and when I found this script, I knew that it had just the right feel to hook the adventurous spirit in kids of all ages. Who hasn’t dreamed of running away and living the (seemingly) carefree life of a sailor?” Slayton continued.

“I knew directing this show would be great fun because the characters are so lovable and silly and the music is so much fun. I’ve learned a few nautical terms, and one of my pirates (enthusiast Richard Reeves) has taught me a few disconcerting historical facts about the pirate lifestyle, but I’m sticking to my happy fantasy that beneath their gruff exteriors these guys are just a bunch of softies.”

Slayton continued, “Our choreographer, Pat Crew, had the big challenge of teaching these guys to move around in very precise formations while still maintaining an atmosphere of chaos, all in the imagined space of the deck of a pirate ship. If you see Miz Pat driving down the road making wild crazy gestures, that’s because she has been listening to the Pirates CD in her car every day, thinking up new challenges for us. She has come up with incredible choreography which she has patiently drilled into this motley crew of pirates.”

Tickets are now on sale for Halifax County Little Theatre’s “How I Became a Pirate” online at hclt.org and at The Prizery box office at 572-8339. This show runs only two weekends: Friday and Saturday nights, April 19 and 20, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. The final two performances will be Friday the 26th at 7:30 p.m. and a Saturday morning matinee on April 27 at 10 a.m., which includes an optional lunch with the cast.

“I hope lots of folks will join us for lunch with the cast after the Saturday morning performance,” Slayton added. “We’ve offered this extra bit of fun several times, and it’s always a popular event. We can only sell 100 tickets for the luncheon, so my advice is to reserve your space right away. Shiver me timbers, it’s gonna be fun.”