Ahoy! There be a musical on the horizon

Homeschoolers performing ‘Lady Pirates of Captain Bree’
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Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Making up some of Captain Bree’s motley crew are, from left, Juli Cary, Megan Pedersen, Taya Jannusch, Briley Woija, Makenna Jannusch and Annika Jannusch. Thirty-one homeschooled students make up this year’s show.

The Wolf River Homeschoolers are hitting the high seas with their annual musical as they present “The Lady Pirates of Captain Bree” next week.

Patrons can expect plenty of music and plenty of comedy in this two-hour show. It is a very familiar show to the director, Cheryl Jones-Ritter, who directed the show a decade ago at the Mielke Arts Center.

“It was one of my favorites,” Jones-Ritter said. “The kids have asked for it through the years, but you don’t want to do a repeat show so soon.”

The cast of the previous show has graduated and continued with adult life, but many of them plan to come to the April 22 show and relive the experience one last time as they sing the finale with the next generation of swashbucklers.

“We’re trying to get them to wear costumes, too,” Jones-Ritter said. “Some of them are parents, and they’re bringing their kids dressed as pirates.”

In the show, Captain Jenkins is hired to ferry around the Prescott family on his merchant ship, but when a pirate ship appears on the horizon, most of his crew jump ship, leaving him with Fergus, a sailor who can’t swim, and a motley crew of prisoners to protect his passengers. Equally dismaying is when the bloodthirsty fiends turn out to be a crew of women.

Among the passengers are Madame Prescott, who is locked in battle with Professor Bidwell to get preferential treatment; Samuel Prescott, who masquerades as a girl to avoid becoming shark bait, and Julia Prescott, who wants more than anything to join the lady pirates. The pirates send Thomas, the cabin boy, back to Britain with a ransom note demanding gold in exchange for the Prescotts’ lives, and while they wait for the booty, they auction off the male prisoners to perform the labors on the ship and teach Julia the ropes of pirating.

The venue at Clintonville High School is much larger than when Jones-Ritter directed the show at the Mielke, which allows her to really make the ship on stage come to life. The show is geared toward 21 actors, but she has 31 this year, so plenty of space — especially during the dance numbers — is crucial.

“Clintonville High School has been so good to let us come here,” Jones-Ritter said.

When asked what was different with the 2018 show compared with the first, the director said she tried not to keep the earlier show in mind and wanted to do something unique.

“I didn’t want to look back on the old one and copy it and do the same things they did,” she said. “Of course, last week I had them group around and do something, and somebody said, ‘Oh, we watched the old video, and that’s what you did.’”

Jones-Ritter said she doesn’t want to kids to emulate the pirates in real life, but “The Lady Pirates of Captain Bree” provides a lot of fun opportunities for the students to bust out and have fun.

“It’s a fun pirate show. I like it,” Jones-Ritter said. “They have fun jokes and fun food, the fun way they talk.”

Thursday was only the second rehearsal at the school, but most of the students made it through blocking and lines with little difficulty. Prior to rehearsing at the school, they practiced in a bowling alley with no props and no scenery, according to Jones-Ritter, but they made the transition flawlessly.

“It was easy for them to transition. I wouldn’t be able to do it,” she said.

AT A GLANCE

WHAT: “The Lady Pirates of Captain Bree”

WHO: Wolf River Homeschool Performing Arts

WHEN: 7 p.m. April 20-21, 2 p.m. April 22

WHERE: Auditorium, Clintonville High School, 64 W. Green Tree Road, Clintonville

FYI: Free admission. Free refreshments during intermission.