Theatre Review: Return to “Treasure Island” at Beef and Boards

Jamie Jackson as Long John Silver in B&B's "Treasure Island" - photo by JulieCurryPhotography.com

I saw the Midwestern premiere of “Treasure Island: a Musical Adventure” at the Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre the weekend it opened and it was thrilling.

I saw it again last night, towards the end of its run, and it was even better.  All of the men – whether they have just a few lines or pages and pages of dialogue –  have fully embodied their roles now.  You really get the brotherhood vibe from the cast, too, even when their characters are attempting to kill each other.  The songs stay with you – I sang the chorus to the title song all the way home – and so does the satisfying feeling of having been on an adventure.  Man, I love this show!

This time, since I knew what was coming, I was free to enjoy the subtle treats as well as the big ones.  Daniel Hesselbrock’s sound design, for one.  It includes many just-right sound effects. When the men are talking on the deck of the ship, I could have sworn I heard live seagulls flying overhead, just at the edge of my consciousness.  The amplification of the singers and the orchestra is blissfully clear and good, too.

All of the design elements, actually, were even better than I remembered them.  Paul Black’s layered lighting design, Brian Horton’s rich costumes, Michael Layton’s magical set, Adam Noble’s dream-like fight choreography – all pleasures.

The singing was even better than I remembered it, too.  I confess, I barely remembered the duet between Captain Smollett (Mark Goetzinger) and Long John Silver (Jamie Jackson) from last time.  This time it made me catch my breath, it was so intense and beautiful.  I remember liking the young Jim Hawkins’ (Rick Desloge’s) voice last time, but this time the combination of sweetness and strength in the quality of his voice touched my heart as much as did the words he sang.   His overall boyishness was even more believable this time, too.

And Christopher Dickerson’s deep voice as Tom Morgan made me swoon and have inappropriate thoughts.

The whole cast sounded great in all of the ensemble numbers.

The comedic elements were funny all over again as well.  J. R. Stuart was a hoot again as the well-meaning but easily-excitable Squire Trelawney and Eddie Curry was a hoot again as the near-deranged Ben Gunn.

However, the first time I hadn’t even recognized Eddie Curry as the evil Pew.  This time I especially appreciated the differences in Eddie’s laughs as Pew and as Ben Gunn.  One is creepy; the other is making me laugh out loud again, remembering its giddy and lunatic (but harmless) edge.

Little things made the experience extra fun, such as actor Michael Davis saying in the curtain talk, “When I ask if you’re ready to see ‘Treasure Island,’ I want you to say ‘Yes, we are’ like a pirate.”

We all laughed and said, “Yes, we arrrrrrgh!”

I felt privileged to be there to applaud when artistic director Doug Stark came out to recognize Ernie Coleson for playing woodwinds in the Beef and Boards orchestra for twenty-five years.  Mr. Coleson is retiring.

I loved handsome Curt Dale Clark again as the role model-y Dr. Livesey.  I got to chat with Curt briefly after the show.   He and director Marc Robin wrote the book and lyrics for the show.  Marc Robin wrote the music.  The show is based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson.

I asked Curt what was next for “Treasure Island.”  He told me that several producers have been out to see the show, and that B&B’s Doug Stark has been helping him and the show’s other writer, Marc Robin, negotiate with them all.  It all sounded very exciting.  I was thrilled all over again to have been one of the first people to see this new show.

“Treasure Island” closes this Sunday, May 17, 2009.  If you would like to see if there are any tickets left, please call the Beef and Boards Box Office at 317-872-9664.

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com

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