Dec 10, 2018
by Alexa Chipman
Eve (Maisy Gibson) is unhappy with the prospect of another Christmas with pink dolls and easy bake ovens that she has no interest in; she would rather be a swashbuckling hero with her own pirate ship. Brandishing a wrapping paper tube, she defies the idea that girls cannot have a life of daring exploits.‘Yo Ho Ho, A Pirate’s Christmas’ is the product of Eve’s imaginative dream, complete with a dance-off between the pirates and Santa’s elves.
This show is specifically designed for young audience members. There are pre-show crafts in the lobby, cards to discover your own pirate name, goofy scenes with kiddie floaters as the pirates swim ashore, and a tight running time of an hour that will satisfy even the shortest attention span. After the play, there are opportunities to meet characters for photos, and actors engage children throughout the performance.
The simple plot is stuffed with political themes, such as a ship named “The Flying Duchperson” and a tongue-in-cheek feminist ballad “If Women Ruled the World” that had the potential to be quite powerful, but was lacking in rehearsal time to come together—at times the lyrics were unintelligible. While admirable, the message feels unnaturally strained within the confines of an otherwise slapstick comedy with tap dancing snowball fights and magical whirlpools.
Looking like they could have disembarked straight from The Northern California Pirate Festival, with corsets, cutlasses and tricorns designed by Karen Lovato, Black-Eyed Johnny’s crew is a motley assortment of ne’er-do-wells, from Jonathan Graham’s amusing Scottish pirate to Dawn Gibson as the poised Grainne O’Mally.Bret Palmer’s over-the-top performance as Captain Black-Eyed Johnny when he discovers the true meaning of Christmas is hysterical to witness.
Yavé Guzman’s whimsical set design has a bit of stagecraft wizardry in the pirate ship which is a fun surprise. DirectorAmy Lovatoutilizes a dizzying array of props to keep children immersed in the live performance, with flashing lights and large colorful objects.
‘Yo Ho Ho, A Pirate’s Christmas’ is exactly the sort of chaotic holiday romp that this reviewer would have enjoyed at a young age. Although not meant for adults, it is still enjoyable to those who are children at heart, and secretly want to see a Santa vs pirates action adventure musical.
Presented by Cloverdale Performing Arts Center through December 16, 2018
Fri/Sat at 7:30pm, Sun at 2:00pm
Photos by John Gobeille.
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