In the words of Tristan LaMarque, captain of the Anne- Marie, “Tonight we celebrate the birth of our fleet. Tonight we celebrate us”. Fitting words for the premiere performance of A Pirate’s Tale. Four years in the making, this show has been successfully performed as a one-act on the Gateway Clipper’s Empress for three seasons thus far and is now available to land lovers young and old at Carnegie Stage.
The story, typical in many buccaneering myths, A Pirate’s Tale offers the audience an original score with music and lyrics written by composer Paul Shapera, the well renowned creator of “The Dolls Of New Albion: A Steampunk Opera“. The story begins with the band of pirates from the Anne- Marie, and their Captain Tristan LaMarque, played by Ray Cygrymus, and his crew discussing their recent capture of the Raven and how they plan to celebrate the acquisition of their greatest triumph. The shipmates are in good spirits and Tristan and his pirate queen Cassandra McKaye, played by Tiffany Joy Williams, are making plans for their future and are clearly happily in love, until first mate Sebastian Palk, played by Michael Petyak enters the captain’s quarters. Tristan awards Sebastian with the title Captain of the Raven but an argument quickly ensues over what to do with the Raven’s crew they are holding captive. Sebastian wants to put up a ransom, the usual action imposed upon prisoners, but Tristan, demands they be sold into slavery off the Barbary Coast. When Cassandra learns that the Raven was given to Sebastian she becomes angry; Tristan had promised her a ship of her own and when the rest of the crew learn of Tristan’s orders to sell the prisoners, they all agree, it will be the death of them. Sebastian organizes a mutiny and the following chain of events lead to trickery, plank walking and sword fights.
Although the story itself isn’t new to the world of pirating sagas, there are components of A Pirate’s Tale which make it unique and entertaining. Writer Shaun Rolly spins the life of swashbuckling marauders on the high seas as not only adventurous and daring but as sensitive human beings, allowing the cast to portray characteristics of friendship and love and anger with passion and melds this humanness with lyrics that are intelligent and tunes that are catchy. Tristan and Cassandra’s relationship is emotionally charged and full of affection and song, Jonathan, played by Tim Tolbert, is the imbecile pirate who gets the most laughs based on his highly irrelevant and off the wall comments. The relationship between the female cast as they come together forming their own pack is empowering and just the twist you hope for when seeing a performance at Carnegie Stage. The most troubling aspect of the story is witnessing Tristan go soft after ordering that his lover and partner Cassandra be sent to walk the plank. Personally, I never want to see a pirate go soft and listening to the rough and cold captain sing, ‘Cassie, Losing You’ seemed out of character for a pirate, but again, this moment reinforces the idea that the story is not limited to clashing of silver and plundering.
The production offered some strong musical scores, specifically ‘Hey Diddle- Diddle, Ride the Hemp’ and the final, ‘A Pirate’s Tale’. There is an energetic and lively dance number, ‘Abigail’s Jig’, which incorporates the entire cast. Most important, what pirate story would be complete without jousting? The excitement and movements on stage are intoxicating. The fight choreography, combined with costumes and the stage direction aid in generating a real sense of life on the high- seas.
A strong stage presence is felt from Cygrymus and Williams as well as Andy Hickly who plays shipmate Jonah, Sandi Oshaben cast as Victoria and Hope Anthony, playing Abigail. Kudos to Leah Klocko, costumer, for creating an authentic look for the players, and the direction of Catherine Gallagher and the choreography of Lisa Moran Elliot, are nothing short of professional, incorporating all of the elements that you would imagine. For pirating enthusiasts this show will excite your love of the lore.
As a musical in its infancy, will A Pirate’s Tale sink or swim? I expect to see the show cultivated and adapted as the cast continues to perform together.
Special thanks to A Pirate’s Tale for complimentary press tickets. A Pirate’s Tale is being performed through July 31, 2016 at Carnegie Stage for tickets and more information, click here. Would you like to see more reviews and articles like this from Pittsburgh in the Round? Then help us out and donate to our indiegogo!