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With milk and pirate-frosted cookies in its fabled "Green Room" where wine and cheese once resided, not to mention a staff donning eye-patches galore, there's little doubt the stage belongs to children during Salt Lake Acting Company's run of "How I Became a Pirate."
And so it does. Adapted for musical theater by Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman from the children's book by Melinda Long, the play hits all the buttons sure to resonate with the 12-and-under crowd. Anyone who remembers the visceral urge to build a tree house or backyard castle, even when chores and homework beckon, can relate.
Jeremy Jacob, played in alternating roles by Michael Tao and Fynn White, is just that child. His mother nags him about wearing enough sunblock. His father reminds him about soccer practice. At the point just when he's about to despair, the pirate Braid Beard and his quartet of seaworthy brigands happen upon Jacob after a wrong turn near Bora Bora.
Through jubilant song and dance, but always with the ever-mischievous edge of "Aarrgh!" never lurking far behind, Jeremy learns all there is to know about pirate life, from lingo to manners and dental hygiene and everything in between. "Pirates don't have a bedtime," says J. Michael Bailey, in his full-blooded role as Braid Beard. "Hence, no flossing!"
What makes this production a thorough delight, parents may be relieved to learn, is that by show's end the emphasis on a child's thirst for adventure is counterweighted by the anchor of security of home life. Even without a boat or sea, we can summon a bit of pirate spirit whenever we feel like it.
White, who opened the production Friday night as Jacob, contrasted well with SLAC's adult cast. Tao, meanwhile, sat in the fifth row studying for his turn. For adults, the spotlight belonged to Austin Archer as Sharktooth, a one-eyed pirate full of grit beside his sea mates, but with a hidden side as big-old softy in the song, "I'm Really Just a Sensitive Guy."
It's these wonderful ironies plus the odd line about pirates eating quiche that make SLAC's production a family theater treat only a foolish landlubber would pass up. With every song full of hooks, and lines liberally barbed with pirate spunk, "How I Became a Pirate" is Aarrghuably one of your top bets for family holiday theater.
'How I Became a Pirate'
Based on the book by Melinda Long, adapted for the stage by Janet Yates and Mark Friedman.
When » Through Dec. 30; Tuesdays-Thursdays, noon and 3 p.m.; Fridays, 10 a.m., noon and 3 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, noon and 3 p.m. No shows Dec. 24 and 25.
Where » Salt Lake Acting Company, 168 W. 500 North, Salt Lake City.
Tickets » $10-$22. Call 801-363-7522 or visit http://www.saltlakeactingcompany.org.
Bottom line • A seaworthy show for the family. One hour with no intermission.