Review: Now on stage at RCT — cute pirates

Pirates aren't supposed to be cute, but the crew manning ship and sail at Rochester Civic Theatre can't help themselves.

"How I Became a Pirate," the family musical that opened Friday at RCT, is colorful, full of action, and will delight kids, parents and grandparents alike. And possibly the best part for families: "How I Became a Pirate" runs for only 60 minutes.

The play is based on a popular children's book in which a boy playing on the beach finds himself face-to-face with a shipload of pirates. The boy, Jeremy Jacob, travels with his new friends, who are led by old salt Braid Beard, and learns the ins and outs of pirating. Turns out that, while pirating is quite an adventure, it lacks the creature comforts of life at home.

This production, directed by Ryan Stotts, benefits from lively dancing choreographed by the team of Debbie Fuehrer and Mallory McKay. Likewise, the set, designed by Denise Ruemping, is ingenious in its suggestion of a pirate ship. Pirate wear is designed by Eve Noelle Hildebrandt.

But it's the songs that really make this show special, and especially the way in which the energetic cast delivers them. And don't forget the ship's orchestra, directed by Jan Matson.


The cast starts with Logan Ackerman, a 4th-grader making his RCT debut as Jeremy Jacob. He shines as the kid next door who happens to make friends with a group of pirates. The leader of the pirates is Braid Beard, played by Rich Dietman, in his most extensive singing and dancing role at RCT. His cohorts on board are Kelsey Ackerman as Scurvy Dog, Anastasia Bolkwadze as the ship's French cook, Pierre, Mari Imaizumi as Maxine, Karl Bristol as Swill and Jeff Kosharek as Sharktooth.

Kosharek gets tons of laughs in "I'm Really Just a Sensitive Guy," in which he reveals an unpirate-like affinity for ballet dancing. Among other tunes, "How I Became a Pirate" is downright catchy, and "Talk Like a Pirate" comes with a Caribbean beat. Only "Read the Map" seems too drawn out, causing some younger kids to lose patience.

Along the way, kids will love the references to the poop deck, booty, "heave ho" and diapers.

Everyone, in fact, is in for a swell time. And it's not, as Braid Beard reminds us in a reference grandparents will enjoy, a three-hour tour.

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