A Children's Musical "How I Became a Pirate" Starts Today
SAN ANGELO, TX — Starting tonight, Feb. 23, at 7:30 p.m., your child can be a pirate and get motivated to learn by reading at the same time.
Be Theater, a local “black box” dramatic arts troupe in San Angelo, is performing its 6th annual Literature Alive Project that brings the joy of reading to children. The theater group does this with a fun musical of the children’s book, How I Became a Pirate.
Above: The book, "How I Became a Pirate" (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
The format is a play followed by the opportunity for kids to meet the play actors in pirate garb. The story line is about using your imagination, in this case, to join a band of pirates on the sea, just like reading is an imaginative pursuit.
Kids won’t see the magic of the way the actors are promoting reading. The play makes the child realize that using their imagination is fun and engaging. For parents, there’s enough adult humor in the play to keep you engaged, too.
“Who’s driving the ship?” a tired 10-year-old Jeremy Jacob asks before going to bed on a pirate ship. “Jeremy Jacob” is the 10-year-old boy, the lead role in the play, performed by Jack McLaughlin. He asks this of the pirate named Shark Tooth.
“The auto-pirate!” Shark Tooth responds with a snarl.
Shark Tooth is played by Mack Fox, the same guy who brought the steamboat rides to Lake Nasworthy. So he’s almost a pirate in real life.
Above: "Jeremy Jacob", left, and the head of the pirates, “Captain Braidbeard” played by Stoddard Owens. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
Phil Gandy, founder of Gandy Ink, the large screen printer in San Angelo, has sponsored the event several times.
“We believe in the play and the purpose of the play, and in Elena Kent for the hard work that she does,” he said. “It teaches kids about reading and having fun.”
Kent is the executive director of the six-year-old Be Theater, and she said the group’s goal this year is to reach a wider spectrum of San Angelo’s children. The show is free and performed in the Stephens Public Library downtown. The library’s theater holds 500. She said the troupe wants to fill all seats during every show this year. Last year, there were about 100 seats still available each show. The event still attracted 2,000 kids over three days.
“My little neighbor. She’s six. I brought her. She absolutely loved this and wants to read. And she couldn’t wait to get home to read her book on pirates. She’s really excited about it,” Gandy said after the last practice performance held Wednesday evening.
Above: Actors give free books, "How I Became a Pirate," at the end of the performance. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
Overall, Kent saw opportunity in creating theater for children.
“Usually, plays will involve youth as actors in plays in San Angelo. We wanted to create something, a play, that kids will have a fun time watching,” Kent said. The educational twist provides larger purpose for Be Theater’s production.
“We want to get more kids into reading, or if they’re already into reading, we want them to read more,” she said. “If you want to reach the masses, like we’re trying to do with this production, you cannot just tailor your event towards the arts crowd.”
Kent is the driving force behind Be Theater and she has attracted many talented San Angeloans to join her. The Fine Arts major from the University of Texas in Austin has found her calling.
Above: "Be bold, be brave, be fabulous!" and preparing to go on stage. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
Be Theater has a non-denominational faith-based twist. Before each show, the actors and production volunteers gather for prayer. At the end of the prayer, the troupe, while still holding hands, lifts them upward, proclaiming Be Theater’s mission in unison: “Be bold, be brave, be fabulous!”
The play lasts about an hour. The general plot is centered around a 10-year-old boy named Jeremy Jacob who dreams of being a pirate. Low and behold, through Jeremy’s imagination, he joins a band of pirates and learns their ways, but also teaches the pirates things he knows, like soccer. It is a musical comedy.
The actors are:
- “Cut Throat Cassidy” – Cassidy Brown
- “Max” – Buddy Smith
- “Swill” – Debra Edmund
- “Monsoon Mark” – Mark Lack
- “Paulette” – Caity Roberts
- “Scurvy Dog” – Stephen McLaughlin
- “Seymour” – Yvette Sherman
- “Shark Tooth” – Mack Fox
- “Jeremy Jacob” – Jack McLaughlin
- “Captain Braidbeard” – Stoddard Owens
The play is held in the theater on the top floor of the Stephens Central Library, 33 W. Beauregard. If you go, arrive at least 15 minutes early. Parking spaces are limited. Ample parking is available 1.5 blocks north on the Harris Ave. side of the Wells Fargo Building, which is across the street from the library.
Adults will enjoy the show, too. There’s something in the performance for everyone.
Show times are:
- Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m.
- Friday, Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
- Saturday, Feb. 25 at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
All children who attend are given a free book, How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long. The play is from the story in the book. After the show, children are encouraged to meet the actors, still in their pirate outfits, on the outdoor rooftop patio of the library and get autographs. Fort Concho Elementary students raised money to buy most of the books that are given away at the event.
Local businesses provided donations for more books and to cover the production costs. They are:
- Tom Green County Library
- Omega Orthodontics
- Addresses Real Estate
- Gandy Ink
- Fort Concho Elementary students
- Foster Communications
- Mitchell Automotive Group Buick and GMC
- Choate Ranch, Inc.
Visit Be Theater of San Angelo online here and follow them on Facebook. The play was written by Janet Yates and Mark Friedman. It is based on the best selling book by Melinda Long and David Shannon. The play is licensed in cooperation with Theatrical Rights Worldwide.