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Treasure Island swashbuckles onstage at OCHS

Lively production is adapted from the classic novel, with a surprise twist or two
by: MARK SCHWAHN, Grace Ashford, the Parrot, Grant Torgerson, Long John Silver, and Kristian Tate, Jim Hawkins, set sail on the Good Ship Hispaniola in Oregon City High School's

Every actor knows you can't compete with a dog onstage, but what about a bird?

Well, if the bird is a talking stuffed parrot named Captain Flint, the actor playing that quintessential pirate Long John Silver has this to say: 'This parrot can steal the show.'

Those wise words come from senior Grant Torgerson, who plays Silver in Oregon City High School's upcoming production of 'Treasure Island,' opening May 23.

And what is it anyway, with pirates? Why does everyone love them?

'The pop culture in Hollywood has shaped what stereotypical pirates look like. Movies like 'Pirates of the Caribbean' have made pirates fun,' Torgerson said.

Director Karlyn Love, the OCHS drama teacher, watched old black-and-white Errol Flynn movies to get into the spirit of the play, and she noted that pirates were glamorized even back in the 1930s.

'We are fascinated with their romantic free spirit-with their go-for-it spirit,' she added.

Coming-of-age story

Love said she chose 'Treasure Island' for her play production class to put on, partly because of its message about loyalty and sense of duty. But the play also is a coming of age story for Jim Hawkins, a fatherless 14-year-old boy, who is befriended by Silver.

She described the play as an action-adventure, following Jim as he sets sail on the adventure of a lifetime.

The play starts off traditionally, like the Robert Louis Stevenson book of the same name, 'but then delves into our fascination with pirates,' Love said. The play even adds women pirates, which Love was pleased about, because she has so many girls in the class.

But she was surprised and gratified, as she researched the time period, to find that there historically really were women pirates, some of whom dressed up as men and stowed away on the sailing ships.

Although pirates were seen as living outside of the law, 'they followed the pirate code,' noted senior Kristian Tate, who plays Jim.

Love noted that pirates who lost a leg, like Silver, got more of the loot, because they had made more of a sacrifice. Pirates also knew they needed to have a captain, although Silver, who is the ship's cook, has a few twisted action plans up his sleeve, Torgerson said.

When Silver comes into Jim's life, the loveable, naive boy's life changes and he starts to become more of a man, Tate said.

'The two characters help each other in interesting ways,' Love said, noting that Silver sees potential in Jim, and Jim sees a father figure in Silver.

Appealing to all ages

Although there are some sword-fighting scenes in 'Treasure Island,' the production is more fun than scary, and it is suitable for ages 6 and up, Love noted.

Children will like the fighting and the fast pace, Tate said, while Torgerson added that the audience will be involved in different ways.

'The set is amazing, the story is touching, and the audience will leave happier than when they came in,' he said.

Love added, 'This production bridges the gap - there is something for all ages. The adults will get the jokes about stereotypical pirates; they will have fun at the expense of our pirate fascination.'

And then there is the parrot puppet.

'It is colorful and larger than life,' she said.

Fast Facts

The Oregon City High School Theatre Arts Department presents 'Treasure Island.'

Dates: May 23, 24, 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m. on the main stage at the high school, 19761 Beavercreek Road.

The show is appropriate for ages 6 and up; tickets are $9 at the door; no special ticket prices and no advanced ticket sales.

For more information, visit ochs.orecity.k12.or.us/departments/drama or call 503-785-8980.