ORLANDO — Boyhood adventures never seem to go out of style — and probably never will, as long as we have kids who love to imagine themselves going off on exciting escapades rather than staying in their room doing ho-hum homework.
And that’s exactly how young Jeremy feels. The boy lives with his parents by the beach, and he’s outside making a sandcastle when his mom calls out, telling him to be sure to put on sunscreen and to come inside when it’s time for soccer practice. As Jeremy glances up and notices what looks like a pirate ship on the water, he starts grumbling about how pirates don’t have to use sunscreen or go to soccer practice — they can just be rough and tumble men all day.
Imagine Jeremy’s surprise when that ship does indeed come ashore, it is filled with pirates, and even better, they happily invite Jeremy to come along. It doesn’t take much convincing to get him on board.
The new musical-comedy How I Became a Pirate, now being performed at the Orlando Repertory Theatre, is the kind of show likely to entertain kids with its zany antics, while charming the adult parents with its nostalgic look back at what it was like to be a kid who dreams a lot, always ready for a bold undertaking.
What is the Play How I Became A Pirate About?
The play was adapted from the children’s book by Melinda Long, with the book, music, and lyrics by Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman. We follow Jeremy as he boards that pirate ship and they sail off to the high seas, and luckily for him, these pirates are jolly, crack a lot of jokes, and even have marvelous singing voices. As far as pirate adventures go, this is one Jeremy can get used to rather quickly.
That’s particularly true of the ship’s captain, Braid Beard, who may look just like Captain Hook from the classic Peter Pan story but has none of that captain’s harsh disposition. In fact, Jeremy soon discovers that these pirates are all about adventure: they’re not worried about when it’s dinner time, or when it’s time to go to bed, and they’re certainly not worried about sitting down to do an hour of homework anytime soon.
Jeremy quickly fits in — at least until a shark steals his soccer ball, a nasty storm tosses the ship about, and, perhaps most tellingly, he realizes it’s way past his bedtime and he’s starting to get tired. It’s at this point that Jeremy also figures out that among these gruff pirates, none is willing to tuck him in, read him a bedtime story, or give him a goodnight kiss as his mom always did.
And that’s when the story starts to pick up on some of the themes from the Disney films Pinocchio and Peter Pan: that being a child, free to sail off on wild journeys, is all fine; but it’s also easy to miss the creature comforts that loving parents bring to the table — especially when they’re not bugging you about wearing sunscreen.
Does This Fantasy Story Work?
It’s never quite clear if Jeremy is really off on a pirate ship or if the entire saga is just a figment of his imagination while he’s making that sandcastle on the beach — although the fact that he makes it home in time for soccer practice hints that it as.
And while the six-member cast is fun, Stephen Pugh as the rascally but good-natured Captain Beard and Cole Higgenbottom as the dreamy-eyed Jeremy are particularly good at capturing the wistful spirit of this enjoyable show.
How I became A Pirate is being produced now through Nov. 10 at the Orlando Repertory Theater, 1001 E. Princeton St. in Orlando’s Loch Haven Park. Shows are on Saturdays and Sunday at 2 & 5:30 p.m. There willbe a special ASL Performance at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 4.
Call 407-896-7365 for tickets and more information.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright, and author of the book “Of Cats And Wolves.” Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.