Theater for Young America (TYA) continues to provide lively, age appropriate shows with bright costumes, singing, dancing, and movement with simple story lines and themes geared for pre-school and early elementary students in a lively format and all condensed into one-hour programs.
The current production, How I Became a Pirate just opened and runs through Nov. 9 on City Stage in the lower level of Kansas City’s historic Union Station. What an appropriate show for the young ones with another pirate attraction upstairs on the main floor, Real Pirates, that exhibits artifacts from a sunken ship that went down over 200 years ago. What could be more appealing to young students than a show about pirates?
As for TYA’s ensemble, more appropriate actors could not be found. The ensemble creates a beautifully stages adventure of a young man who leaves his home for a pirate adventure and learn all about pirates and their chest of gold doubloons and pieces of eight. But, where to bury the pirated chest remains the quest of these seaworthy scallywags.
Green teeth, bright costumes, and a pirat ship help captain Braid Beard (Danny Cox), Swill (Mike Ott), Max (Amy Hurrelbrink), Sharktooth, (Vigthor Zophoniasson), and Pirate Pierre (Eric Hohanses) as they teach their young mate, Jeremy Jacob (Isaac Robinson) all about pirating and pirate lingo.
But, parents, don’t be afraid, these are not mean pirates, and, besides your children can protect you. But, be forewarned, audience participation comes at the end of the show when you learn how to talk like a pirate. Be ready. And have a good time.
The best parts of the show comes from the buy-in by the actors. They are so professionally bound to storytelling and entertaining younger audiences. Their movements, dancing, expressions all add to the mystic of the performance.
A nearly 1-year-old followed all the movement and color throughout the show. Most of the audience came from bus loads of young people from early elementary grades. Giggles and applause greeted and rewarded the tunes in How I Became a Pirate.
A big surprise came from the newest performer in the ensemble Ziphoniasson. In his first show with TYA he displayed a rich deep baritone voice that sounds classically trained for opera. The balance of the cast all possess nice voices and acting skills. Nowhere do you hear a sour note.
Another entertaining part of the theater experience ends each performance when the actors reveal their real names and step out of character to answer any questions from the younger audience. This gives the children a chance to see the difference between the real person and the character portrayed.
And, as the audience exits, cast members stand outside the theater by the doors to shake hands, talk, pose for pictures, etc. Overall, TYA’s How I Became a Pirate succeeds in its focus–to introduce, expose, and entertain young audiences and help spark their interest in the arts. Each performance and each show educates the audiences and guarantees they leave with a smile on their face. That smile verifies they just had a positive theater experience and paves the way for more upon their next theater opportunity.