- The Theater Ensemble Arts production of “Treasure Island” will be presented at 7 p.m. from Thursday, August 25 through Sunday, August 28 at the Lions Wilderness Park Amphitheater.
- Production continues from September 1 to 3.
- Chuck Holmes directs production.
FARMINGTON — It’s been several years since Chuck Holmes directed a production for Theater Ensemble Arts, Farmington’s community theater company.
So when he talks again about “stretching his legs” as a director, it’s kind of ironic that he chose to do it in the form of a maritime adventure.
Holmes directs the production of “Treasure Island”, an adaptation of the 19e century-old Robert Louis Stevenson adventure novel written by veteran TEA director and actor Brit Ward.
“It’s a classic romance, a classic story,” Holmes said. “Almost everyone knows the story of ‘Treasure Island’. But Brit Ward brought that story into the 21st century.”
Ward’s adaptation changes some important elements of Stevenson’s story while nonetheless adhering to the plot. Chief among them, Holmes said, was his decision to change the title character — a mid-teens boy named Jimmy Hawkins — into a girl of the same age, Jen. He also added a handful of female pirates.
“It’s an update to the classic story in a comprehensive way,” Holmes said.
This is the latest adaptation of a classic work that Ward undertook for TEA. He also wrote adaptations of Shakespeare’s “Scottish Play” for a film called “The Tragedy of Macbeth” and wrote a play called “Sherlock Holmes and the Sinister Trio” which is based on the famous Scottish detective.
Holmes acknowledged that the company may have found its niche with such suitable projects.
“I think so, and Brit is extremely talented,” he said.
Ward’s “Treasure Island” script also differs from the source material in that it includes a significant amount of levity, Holmes said.
“Oh, yeah, there’s a lot of humor, a lot of funny lines,” he said. “It’s not a stuffy story. On many levels, it’s also about relationships between mother and daughter, and between friends.”
But, at its heart, “Treasure Island” is a pirate tale, and it was what prompted Holmes to agree to helm the project when no one else from TEA’s usual roster of directors was willing to. do it.
“I said, ‘Wow, we’re pirates, let’s go!'” he laughed.
The company’s production certainly seems the part. Holmes’ wife, Michelle, spent hours and hours “sewing her fingers to the bone”, he noted, to outfit the crew in period costumes, so the audience can expect to see a lot of baggy shirts – and baggy pants. The set even recycles the remaining ship from the recent production of “The Pirates of Penzance” by the Four Corners Musical Theater Company. The only thing missing is a parrot.
“I wish,” Holmes said.
But tracking down a talking bird was the least of the director’s worries as he immersed himself in the lead role of “Treasure Island.” Holmes said his previous experience directing theatrical productions all involved much smaller casts — just three or four actors — as opposed to the 15 performers on this show.
At first, he says, the task of directing so many actors was a bit overwhelming.
“My head was exploding,” he said. “I don’t mean my mind was exploding – my head was exploding.”
But Holmes quickly settled into the job and now expresses a growing sense of satisfaction with how his cast and crew have come together in recent weeks. The only drama in this production, he noted proudly, is on stage, where it belongs, and not behind the scenes, where it can be a destructive force.
Leading the cast as Jen Hawkins is 16-year-old Abigail Gladden, who made her TEA debut last summer in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
“She’s an amazing young woman with a lot of talent,” Holmes said.
The rest of the cast features a healthy mix of newcomers and seasoned TEA performers, including a handful of actors who had walked away from the company for a few years before returning for this show, led by Dan Cabrera in the role of Long John Silver.
Other cast members include Stephanie Lewis, Wray Lewis, Jeremy Orr, Ethan Franklin, Thomas Smith, Ben Burns, Brandy McCoy, Daniel West, Avith Grolley, Kevin Tschetter, Amanda McCaleb, Bryson Howard, and Talon Holmes. The crew consists of Frank Lawrence, Natasha Hastings, Alana McCaleb and Jacqueline Ball.
The Theater Ensemble Arts production of “Treasure Island” will be presented at 7 p.m. from Thursday, August 25 through Sunday, August 28 at the Lions Wilderness Park Amphitheater, 5800 College Blvd. in Farmington. Production continues from September 1 to 3. Tickets are $10 and $12. The August 28 performance is free. Dial 505-326-2839.
Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or [email protected] Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e.