Captain One-Eyed Jack himself. Photo by Ralph Stewart
Captain One-Eyed Jack himself. Photos by Ralph Stewart

Ahoy! Pirates on-Island

By Eleni Collins - August 24, 2006

"A pirate's life is a terrible thing but it's the only one I've got," lamented Sam Permar, as Cecil, "the seasick sailor" who even got seasick on shore. Enter a native Vineyard girl, and Cecil finds there is more to his life than that of a pirate.

In their two performances last Friday, the children of the Martha's Vineyard Children's Theatre sang and swabbed their way through their last musical of the summer, "One-eyed Jack: The Terror of Tiah's Cove," written by Donna Swift and Ross Mihalko, with music by Linda Berg.

The musical was filled with gender battles, love, and pirates, which was kept fun and performed maturely by a cast of 6- to 16-year-olds. Taking place mainly on a ship cleverly named "Arrgg," the set décor included a mast, ratlines, a furled sail, weathered pirate chests, and a jolly roger of course.

The group of pirates was a colorful and witty bunch, such as Molly Gorin, who played Mr. Turner, the blind ship's navigator. Genevieve Hammond played the practically deaf Mr. Gunner, who was in charge of the ship's explosives, and spoke about five volume notches louder than everyone else.

Olive, listening to Mr. Gunner and Cecil singing a warning of Captain One-Eyed Jack. Photo by Ralph Stewart
From left, Olive, listening to Mr. Gunner and Cecil singing a warning of Captain One-Eyed Jack.

Led by Cecil, the pirates frequently joined together in song to the dismay of their captain, One-eyed Jack, played by Zack Martelucci. With black, hip-length hair, pirate hat, eye patch, tall black leather boots, and a purple jacket, the captain was an intimidating presence, for everyone except Olive. Played by Katie Clarke, the future love of Cecil began her pirate career disguised as a man named Oliver, for girls are not allowed on ships because, according to the pirates, "Their perfume attracts sharks!" Bored with the female lifestyle of waiting on men, Olive thought the life of a pirate sounded fun and exciting.

The pirate tale turned into a love story between Cecil and Olive, who sing a duet after comparing themselves to vegetables. "We all need love, love, love, to help us grow. Hate is like a weed, killing what we need."

The pirates, convinced by Cecil that being a pirate was anything but fun, found replacement pirates in the form of colonial women disguised comically with only deep voices and moustaches. Dressed in colonial garb, the women complained they were sick of being teachers, servants, or "an heiress with an unlimited supply of money....It's not as easy as it sounds!"

In comes Naval Admiral Phineas Page Turner of the Queen's Army to arrest the pirates, when he finds, ironically, that all of his men have rebelled against him to become pirates themselves.

After listening to the pirates sing their recipe for "Salmagundi Stew," which included hard-boiled eggs, onions, mustard seed, one pound of flesh, garlic, and peppercorn, the once-enthused women "pirates" soon wanted their old lives back. Coincidently enough, the original pirates, who lived a day in the life of the women, wanted their old jobs back too - even the pirate-turned-heiress with an unlimited supply of money.

After bidding goodbyes - "Goodbye my little sweet potato! Goodbye my brussel sprout" - Cecil the seasick sailor realizes he was not fit to live on a ship, and Olive welcomed him to her Island. They ended in song, of course, singing, "Sing high, sing low, for the life on an island. Sing high, sing low, for family and friends. Sing high, sing low, for the life of a pirate. Sing high, sing low, for a life lived at sea."