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BWW Review: BLACKBEARD at Signature Theatre - A World Premiere Musical About Pirates Will Put a Smile on Your Face

BWW Review: BLACKBEARD at Signature Theatre - A  World Premiere Musical About Pirates Will Put a Smile on Your Face

If you are a fan of the film "Pirates of the Caribbean", you will love this World Premiere Musical BLACKBEARD. The Johnny Depp films are filled with humor and even dead pirates here come alive for a dance number. You may be reminded of A LITTLE MERMAID. It is a fable so leave reality at the door.

I find it so exciting to see a World Premiere Musical. Director Eric Schaeffer has been united with the wonderfully talented writing team of John Dempsey (book and lyrics) and Dana P. Rowe (music) who previously worked on THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK, ZOMBIE PROM, THE FIX, and the terrific BROTHER RUSSIA. This work solidifies their success in musical theater.

Signature was fortunate to have an actor of the caliber of Chris Hoch who stands tall on the stage and demonstrates an imposing figure as BLACKBEARD. I read that he starred in the Broadway cast of MATILDA which I just saw at the Olney Theatre Center. Blackbeard's real name was Edward Teach and his father, known as Whitebeard was also a famous pirate. Their relationship, or lack of same, is a major topic.

Blackbeard, believe it or not, has an inferiority complex. He does not believe he is recognizable.

After he and his band of merrymen take over a French frigate, they uncover some correspondence that the British navy under the helm of Lt. Maynard (Ben Gunderson) will have 50 ships after Blackbeard and hence the story unfolds that he must attempt to bring back dead pirates and needs assistance from old friends. These include the sea witch "Dominique" (Nova Payton) to help get these dead pirates to assist. She asks Blackbeard to obtain three precious jewels from India, Japan, and Norway.

These adventures feature the terrric Bobby Smith as a Norse god name Odinn with helmet horns and wait till you see his song and dance to "Valhala". Christopher Mueller tackles the role of the "Kamakaza", and Awa Sal Secka is Kali Maa from India.

Maria Egler masters the role of "La Mer"and nails the tune "Sail On". She has 16 costume changes.

Nova Payton is "Dominique" and wait till you see her costume designed by Erik Teague. Her torch song is "Spellbound".

Blackbeard has a great ballad at the end, "I Took the Journey".

There is only a cast of 10 but they do yeoman's work. Kevin McAllister as always has a voice that vibrates throughout the theater, especially in the number "To BE a Pirate".

Set Designer Paul Tate DePoo III once again has designed a superb piece of work. The stage IS a pirate ship with a wooden deck that features a turntable.

Matthew Gardner does the clever choreography. The highlight is a dance of the skeletons. The sword fights are terrific thanks to Casey Kaleba.

There is great Lighting Design by Chris Lee and superb sound by Ryan Hickey.

Finally, there is a terrific eight piece orchestra under the baton of Jon Kalbfleisch. David Holcenberg and Scott Wasserman are responsible for the great orchestrations.

BLACKBEARD runs until July 14 and is selling out quickly. It runs 90 minutes with no intermission. For tickets, call 703-820-9771 or visit It's a real treat.

There is a BLACKBEARD Backstage Tour on July 6 at 4 p.m. for $10. You can climb aboard the ship, see the dressing rooms, the green room and talk to a cast member about the design and production process.

Check out the Signature Summer Cabaret Series from July 17 to August 4 in The Ark Theatre. A list of all the performers can be found at the Signature web site.

On August 18 Signature has their Annual Open House from noon to 7 p.m. with free performances on an outdoor stage and all four levels of the building will be open for free performances, master classes, crafts, games and more. There will also be a Signature Shop clearance sale.

Next year is Signature's 30th Anniversary Season and includes award-winning shows such as Sondheim's ASSASINS, HAIR,, three world premieres and a reinvention of the iconic A CHORUS LINE.

I recommend a lovely Italian restaurant at 2900 S. Quincy Street called Osteria Da Nino. Mention Signtature Theatre for 10% off your check. For reservations, call 703-820-1128.

Catch the Broadway cast of BEAUTIFUL including upcoming title player Vanessa Carlton and Carole King on the PBS broadcast "A Capital Fourth" July 4th from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

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From This Author Charles Shubow