TheatreWorks sets sail for All Pikes Peak Reads Treasure Island

click to enlarge Paul Mathewson returns to the stage as Long John Silver - in Treasure Island.
  • Paul Mathewson returns to the stage as Long John Silver in Treasure Island.

Don't let those pandering anti-piracy commercials you see at the movie theater confuse you. Piracy may be a problem, but pirates? They're hip to the max.

Long before pirate jokes (why did the pirate go to the movies? Because it was rated Arrrrr) and Johnny Depp's Keith Richards-inspired Captain Jack Sparrow were de rigueur, Robert Louis Stevenson chronicled the classic pirate life in his classic maritime adventure novel, Treasure Island.

The Pikes Peak Library District has chosen Treasure Island for the third annual All Pikes Peak Reads project, which is designed to encourage intellectual discussion through communitywide readings of the same text.

Following the success of their stage adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein last year, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs' TheatreWorks will tackle the classic sea tale.

A story as popular and beloved as this has been adapted for the stage and screen many times, but TheatreWorks will present its own original adaptation. In order to accommodate the entire story -- which includes a number of locales and accompanying staging challenges -- all the action will take place in the studio of illustrator N.C. Wyeth.

Wyeth's famous illustrations in the 1911 edition of the story still remain the definitive depictions of the famous characters. The work of Marisa Frantz, the set designer, was last seen in TheatreWorks' presentation of The Taming of the Shrew.

Treasure Island was originally titled The Sea Cook: A Boy's Story, and its lack of female characters (save an out-of-sight mother) certainly proves the first title's accuracy. However, in an ecumenical move, director Murray Ross recast Jim Hawkins, boy hero of the story as Jane Hawkins, played by 15-year-old Tina Ivlev.

Paul Mathewson will fill the shoe of everyone's favorite pirate, Long John Silver. In addition to his impressive local resume, he fits the physical part -- Mathewson won a purple heart after losing his leg in Vietnam.

Any commentary about pirates would be terribly remiss without at least one use of the word "swashbuckling." The perfect opportunity arises when describing the costumes, which are rich and deftly designed by the talented Betty Ross.

TheatreWorks continues its educational series along with the production, with a number of lectures including how to dress and talk like a pirate, how to successfully swashbuckle (there's that word again!), and a Speaker Series complete with talks by director Ross, set designer Marisa Frantz, and a special lecture on treasure itself by the Numismatic Association.

-- Bettina Swigger

For a complete list of All Pikes Peak Reads Treasure Island activities, stop by your favorite library branch, visit www.ppld.org or call 531-6333 ext. 1221.


Treasure Island

Presented by TheatreWorks

Dusty Loo Bon Vivant Theater, 3955 Cragwood Drive (at UCCS)

Sept. 24 through Oct. 17; Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday matinees at 2 p.m., Sunday at 4 p.m.

Tickets $18-20; Group discounts available.

262-3232 or www.uccstheatreworks.com


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