Holiday cheer abounds at Columbia Children’s Theatre with the lively production of Jingle Arrgh the Way!: A ‘How I Became a Pirate’ Christmas Adventure (book, music and lyrics by Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman; based on a story by Melinda Long). Snappy dialogue and raucous physical comedy amuse audiences of all ages in this companion to the popular How I Became a Pirate, also produced previously at CCT. Young Jeremy Jacob goes on another adventure with Captain Braid Beard and his crew; this time, their destinations include the North Pole and his school’s Christmas play. The show’s comedic success was made evident in the enthusiastic audience’s glee at the opening night performance I attended with my eight-year-old daughter and our friends. (My daughter was hooked before the show even started, as she declared with excitement: “I love that the title of the play is a joke! Jingle Arrgh the Way is supposed to be Jingle ALL the Way, get it?”)
Top-notch performers bring the holiday romp to life, led by the engaging Ashlyn Combs as Jeremy Jacob and the captivating Lee O. Smith as Braid Beard. The hilarious pirate crew features talented actors including Julian Deleon as the charming Pierre, Andy Nyland as the irrepressible Sharktooth, and the marvelous Brandi Smith in the role of Maxine. Charley Krawczyk makes a memorable appearance as Santa, and Paul Lindley II delights viewers in the role of Swill as he spouts information to a hilariously excessive degree. (Kaitlyn Fuller plays Swill at certain performances.)
The actors’ appealing banter draws children into the pirates’ world, highlighted by nifty special effects and plenty of “wow” moments. Director Jerry Stevenson steers this ship with gratifying expertise, and Crystal Aldamuy contributes entertaining choreography. Lindley provides strong musical direction; audience members will especially enjoy singing along with “pirate” versions of familiar holiday favorites. Donna Harvey’s vibrant costumes work beautifully with the inventive set (designed and constructed by Harvey and Jim Litzinger). The capable production staff also includes Mary Litzinger, Toni Moore, Deleon, Nathan Fuller, Natalie Combs, Candice Fuller, Betsy Siemers, and Dianne Lee.
My young companions both gave Jingle Arrgh the Way! rave reviews. Our nine-year-old friend observed: “Swill is really funny. My favorite part was when Santa met the Captain. That was fun.” My daughter contributed: “I loved that the play is about the pirates from How I Became a Pirate. It was great that the pirates helped Jeremy Jacob with his school Christmas play! Also, there are some scenes that remind me of the book Pirates Don’t Change Diapers. I liked that the actors were the same performers from when they did How I Became a Pirate. Jeremy Jacob, the main character, is my favorite. Kids should go see this funny play!” Audiences will want to stick around after the show, as the traditional post-performance cast appearance for autographs and photos is always a hit with families at CCT.
Columbia Children’s Theatre will present Jingle Arrgh the Way! on Saturday, December 12 at10:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 13 at 3:00 p.m. There will also be a special “Late Night Date Night” adults-only performance on Friday, December 11 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 for children ages three through adult; tickets for seniors and active duty military are $8. (For Saturday 7:00 p.m. performances, tickets are $5.00). To purchase tickets, visit http://www.columbiachildrenstheatre.com or call (803) 691-4548.