Gangway for "women of opportunity, wenches gone astray, a sisterhood of thieves" and the "vile scourge upon the sea." These are some of the lyrics from King Kekaulike Drama's upcoming "The Lady Pirates of Captain Bree."
Not to be confused with a pair of perfectly fitting jeans, this sisterhood of mean and nasty rebels, when not seeking pirate booty, auction off male prisoners to do their dirty work. Though a light-hearted teen production, "Captain Bree," as well as a few subplots from Disney's "Pirates of the Caribbean," are based on a considerable amount of 18th century history.
Approximately 300 years ago, a female pirate named Anne Bonny terrorized the Bahamas, Jamaica and Nassau, alongside Calico Jack Rackham, captain of the pirate ship, Revenge. In time, the two married, adding several female crew members. The Revenge crew enjoyed great success and captured many Spanish and British vessels, bringing them an abundance of treasure. The women took part in combat alongside the men, and historical accounts describe the "Lady Pirates" as competent, effective in combat and respected as equals by male shipmates.
Students James McCain plays Captain Jennings and Carlyn Leal depicts Captain Bree
King Kekaulike Drama photo
Two hundred years later, Lo Hon-cho, the "Lady Pirate" of China, captured 64 ships during the 1920s. Youthful and pretty, she gained the reputation of being both a sex symbol and the most ruthless of all China's pirates. Under the order of Gen. Chiang Kai-shek, she was intercepted by a Chinese warship. Lo Hon-cho escaped several times but was eventually betrayed by her remaining crew in exchange for clemency.
I asked drama instructor Chris Kepler why he decided to revive a show King Kekaulike High School presented just a few years ago.
"It's an awesome show," Kepler said. "It put Kekaulike Drama on the map in 2010, and is quite legendary in the halls of Dramaatica (a nickname the KKHS students have given themselves).
Despite the risk of over-saturating our public, it's going to be a signature show.
"We plan to give every future Dramaatican an opportunity to be part of the 'Breesome,' so we'll revive it every fifth year," Kepler added.
When Capt. Jennings' (James McCain) crew jumps ship after a pirate sighting, he is left with a handful of motley prisoners to protect his wealthy passengers from attack. As the lady pirates take over the defenseless ship, the swashbuckling musical comedy ensues, with a host of comical characters and lively musical numbers by Bill Francoeur.
"The primary theme in the show - empowered women - turns stereotypical gender roles upside down. Women are the alphas, while men become subjective," said Kepler. "This show is also nice, in that, it has a large cast of characters with lots of roles for women, who usually dominate the enrollment in most high school drama programs. And who doesn't love pirate stories and sword fighting?"
Reasonable authenticity, fight-choreographed swordplay, Irish jigs, the suspense of "The Plank" and other catchy Francoeur tunes like "Shipshape and Bristol Fashion," "Welcome Aboard!" and "They're a Nasty Lot" have made this a popular youth production throughout the United States, leaving audiences singing, "Huzzah! Hooray!" for "The Lady Pirates of Captain Bree."
* King Kekaulike Dramaaticans present "The Lady Pirates of Captain Bree," book by Martin A. Follose, music and lyrics by Bill Francoeur, directed by Chris Kepler. Shows are 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, this week through May 11 in the Pukalani campus cafetorium. Cost is $8 for adults and $6 for students; tickets are available at the door only one half hour before the show.
Also this week
* Seabury Hall Performing Arts continues its 25th annual "Dance Showcase" this weekend at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in the A'ali'i-kuhonua Creative Arts Center in Maka-wao. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for students. Call 573-1257 or visit www.seaburyhall.org.
* The Maui Academy of Performing Arts presents its annual "Spring Dance Extravaganza," with three unique performances at Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater. MAPA youth dancers will showcase their talents with a "Jazz, Tap & Hip-Hop Revue" at 3 p.m. Saturday; a ballet performance of "Snow White" and "The Wizard of Oz," at 3 p.m. Sunday; and "MOVES" at 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15 per show. Call 242-7469 or visit www.mauiarts.org.
* Maui OnStage presents the inspiring and touching story of Helen Keller, "The Miracle Worker" by William Gibson, as directed by Rick Scheideman. At a loss to connect with their deaf, blind and mute daughter, Helen (Pua Kepler), the Kellers enlist the half-blind, youthful and inexperienced Anne Sullivan (Jessica Chernicki). Sullivan tackles the titanic undertaking to release the child from the terrifying prison of eternal darkness and silence. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, May 11 through 25, at the Historic Iao Theater in Wailuku. There will be no performance on May 17. Tickets range from $17 to $28. Call 242-6969 or visit www.mauionstage.com.
* Camp CenterStage, founded by Alexis and Steven Dascoulias, announces CCS Maui. Registration has begun for this nine-day camp for ages 8 through 17, which runs May 30 through June 7 at Camp Maluhia in Kahakuloa. The program offers campers the opportunity to learn valuable life skills through a variety of arts and activities, including acting, music, dance, creative writing, water sports and more. Tuition is $650, which includes meals and housing. The week concludes with a final showcase for friends and family. For more information or to register, visit www.campcenterstage.org.