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Review: 'How I Became a Pirate' tells fun, sweet story in musical form

Posted July 14, 2014

Courtesy: Broadway Series South

A motley band of pirates has taken over the Fletcher Theater at the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts for the next week. They're looking to bury treasure and teach a boy the ins and outs of being a pirate.

It's the story told in "How I Became a Pirate," the 2003 children's book by Melinda Long and illustrated by David Shannon. That story is now on stage in musical form as part of the Storybook Theater series of children's performances. Performances are scheduled through July 20, including a 10:30 a.m.., Wednesday, show where tickets are all just $10 each. I had a chance to review the show on Friday evening with my kids. 

Here, pirates Sharktooth, Pierre, Swill and Max, led by Captain Braid Beard, find young Jeremy Jacob on his native North Beach making sand castles. They're struck by his digging abilities and they invite him on board to learn the pirate ways. He figures his parents won't mind as long as he's not late for soccer practice.

The story follows the crew onto the boat where they teach Jeremy Jacob the ways of the pirate - from their speech to their chores to their manners, or lack thereof. Everything is fine until it's time for somebody to tuck Jeremy Jacob into bed at night and he learns that's not the way pirates do things.

As you might imagine, there are a few jokes about poop decks and booty. And in a song that any soccer mom (of which I am one) can relate to, there's one called "Soccer By the Rules" that involves riding in mom's minivan, watching the game in your folding chair and the kids getting excited about a snack after the game. 

The pirate Sharktooth (played by Jade Arnold on Friday evening) might have gotten some of the biggest laughs. In one song, this strong and fierce character, as the name might suggest, breaks into a song about how he's just a sensitive guy, complete with some graceful ballet moves.

There's also Pierre (played by Newlin Parker), the gourmet chef pirate; Swill (played by Brent Blakesley), the intellectual pirate; Max (played by Carly Prentis Jones), the spunky pirate ready for anything; and, of course,  Captain Braid Beard, (played by Paul Orsett), who leads them all.

But Jeremy Jacob (played by Gabriel Gill) teaches the pirates a thing or two as well. Gill does a wonderful job playing a character who is brave, but sad as he misses his everyday routine. He's the only kid on stage, but he more than holds his own with the rest of the talented adults up there. Each time I go to these local theater productions, I'm amazed at the talent of so many kids in our community.

A couple of times, the pirates walk through the audience, greeting audience members and delighting the kids. At the end, they had us all practice our pirate-speak.

This production isn't as big as Storybook Theater's "Frosty" last year. But it's a fun, sweet story that kids and parents can identify with. We had a great time.

"How I Became a Pirate" runs through July 20 at the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh. Tickets start at $14 (except for the 10:30 a.m., Wednesday performance, when they are $10). This is a shorter, kid-friendly show that runs about an hour with a 15-minute intermission. In the lobby, they're selling all manner of pirate-related items. A concession stand offers snacks.

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  • corriechwalek Jul 15, 2014

    We went on Sunday with my 5 year old and we all loved the show. Very well done. Jeremy Jacobs was fantastic!

  • cinder572 Jul 15, 2014

    I saw this on WRAL last Monday morning and on a spur of the moment decision took my 7 year old grandson. He and I both really enjoyed the performance!