July 19, 2012 | Volume 42, No. 29

'Treasure Island' on stage this weekend

“Lots of fun pirates, and really cute, singing pirates.”

Director Elisé Lammers said that’s what audience members should expect at weekend performances of “Treasure Island,” a children’s play adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic.

It’s staged by Lynn Canal Community Players’ Summer Youth Theater Conservatory. The two-act show includes an intermission and begins at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Chilkat Center. Actors range in age from 5 to 12.

“It’s kind of a slapstick. It’s total comedy. Think ‘The Three Stooges’ in pirates’ costumes,” said Lammers. Plus some fancy swordplay.

“Careful with that sword,” Lammers said at rehearsal Tuesday afternoon, stepping amid young actors brandishing lifelike, metal weapons.

Amateur fencer Coleman Cosgrove gave cast members a few days of instruction in use of swords and helped volunteers fashion seven metal weapons that make a convincing “clang” when struck.

Actors on Tuesday were working through their choreographed sword fights, describing their moves with words like “lunge,” “thrust” and “disengage.”

“It’s scary,” actor Kadin Doddridge, 10, said of the play. He plays pirate Long John Silver, a leading role. “It’s fun… the best part is probably the sword-fighting.” Doddridge played Mike TV in last summer’s conservatory production, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

In the weekend show, he’ll be sporting Captain Flint, a talking parrot on his shoulder. In Stevenson’s story, Long John was missing a leg and used a crutch. Director Lammers was working on that effect this week. “We’re not sure if he’s going to have a peg leg or a crutch.”

Dylan Chapell, 10, plays the role of Jim, the intrepid boy whose work at his family’s seaside inn sweeps him aboard the quest for buried treasure. Gabrielle St. Clair, 11, is Squire Trelawny, Jim’s ally against the murderous cutthroats.

Brennan Palmieri, 9, is Ben Gunn, the castaway who haunts the island. Zach Cone, 8, and Carver Culbeck, 10, are pirates Black Dog and Bill Bones, respectively.

Director Lammers said she gave her young charges, many of them veterans of previous productions, a loose reign to add humor and other elements to the show.

“The kids have been an integral part of adding comedic parts. They play around with dialogue. They think they’re goofing off, but they’re discovering funny things,” she said.

Palmieri, as the marooned Ben Gunn, has come up with mannerisms and an energy that well match his role, Lammers said. “He doesn’t even realize he’s doing the work (of acting). He’s finding weird and unexpected character elements.”

The show also includes a “new wave” of young actors Lammers is hoping will learn from the conservatory’s more veteran players. The younger actors fill out the pirate ranks and provide singing about dead men and bottles of rum.

Lammers said she’s satisfied with the group’s progress. “They got off book Friday. By the end of the week, they were supposed to have their lines memorized and most of them did.” Volunteers helped set lights and stage this week.

The play culminates a three-week program that includes instruction in acting, movement and voice workshops in the mornings, then play rehearsals in the afternoon. “They really only have 15 days of rehearsal before they put on the play,” she said.

Parents helped make the costumes and build the sets, Lammers said. “We have a ship. We have an island… They’re definitely heavy sets. We’ll need more manpower backstage than usual.”

Lammers is in her third year as director of the conservatory. She directed its staging of “The Jungle Book” in 2010.