By Lisa Panzer
“Yo, Ho, Ho, and a Bottle of Rum!!” from Robert Louis Stevenson’s sea shanty, ‘Dead Man’s Chest’ resounds with gusto within the old grist mill building that houses the intimate Hedgerow main stage during the enchanting ‘Storyboard: Treasure Island’. Adapted by Producing Artistic director Jared Reed from Stevenson’s novel ‘Treasure Island’, and further enlivened by a (the) spirited trove of talented thespians, accompanied by beautiful brightly hued storyboards by Phoebe and David Titus, this ‘daddy’ of all pirate stories is a true theatrical treat!
It’s the last quarter of the 18th century when young Jim Hawkins (Lisa Villamil) sets sail from the English coast for the adventure of a lifetime aboard the Hispaniola with the notoriously nefarious pirate, Long John Silver (Shaun Yates), associates Dr. Livesy (Robert Gene Pellechio) and Squire Trewlaney (Owen Corey), and the severe Captain Smollett (Matthew Windham) along with a motley crew of salty seamen (Owen Corey, Robert Gene Pellechio, Matthew Windham). A map depicting an island trail to a chest filled with gold and riches leads to money-lust, misfortune and mutiny, and one castaway, Ben Gunn, whose only material wish is a wee bit cheesy. Long John Silver takes a shine to Jim, and Jim to him, but their mutual friendship is caught in a squall and crosshairs when sides are drawn in a rippling battle for moral stores.
The cast enact this swashbuckling story with rich, full high seas spirit as they read their roles aloud, making it a delightful pleasure to see and hear in conjunction with the Titus’s captivating, moving storyboards. Villamil gives a wonderful definitively strong, lively timber to her character, Jim Hawkins as he grapples and comes of age, while Yates navigates Silver’s nebulous depths and shallows deftly, with absolute vocal ease. Corey is the crest of comedy as he lets his hair down in his portrayal of Ben Gunn, quite scary as old blind Pew, and convincing as the tempestuous Trelawney. Pellechio switches between genteel Dr. Livesy, and scallawag Black Dog, and other assorted characters, swimmingly and Windham lends his cache of voices brilliantly to both Captain Smollett and bad guys Billy Bones and Israel Hands, second in command to the infamous Blackbeard himself.
Sound, designed by David Titus, enriches the experience with marvelous music, well-timed bells, doors, atmospheric sounds of the sea, etc., and Stage Manager Kate Sparachio keeps all flowing smoothly.
There ‘s nothing like a good story, delivered in fabulous setting, told well, and Hedgerow’s ‘Storyboard: Treasure Island’ is especially swell!
Running time: One hour, 30 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission.
Performances of ‘Storyboard: Treasure Island’ continue through September 17, Fridays at 7:30 pm, Saturday at 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm, Sunday at 2:00 pm. Hedgerow Theatre Company is located at 64 Rose Valley Rd, Rose Valley, Pennsylvania 19063. For tickets visit https://app.arts-people.com or call 610-565-4211.
If you go, check out the Treasure Island books on loan from the Brandywine River Museum of Art in the theater’s solarium, which include copies of N.C. Wyeth’s original illustrations. Also of related interest, on Nov. 5, 2017 at the Brandywine River Museum of Art, Hedgerow Theatre will be presenting, at no cost, a treasure hunt featuring the Pirates of Folly with “Storytime Peter Pan”.