A swashbuckling tale of pirates, sword fights, and buried gold will take the stage in the chapel tent this week, as the Performing Arts Department presents Treasure Island. The 1212 play Wicked Sketchy will entertain audiences the following week with student-written comedy sketches.
Directed by performing arts faculty member Shane Fuller, Treasure Island is based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson and adapted for the stage by Mary Zimmerman. It tells the story of Jim, the son of a tavern owner, who finds a mysterious treasure map among the possessions of a sailor who died at the tavern. Jim sets sail with some trusted local friends to locate the island and the treasure—and they’re accompanied by a covertly mutinous crew of pirates, including the ship’s cook, Long John Silver.
“It’s a fun show,” Fuller said. “There’s a little bit of sword-fighting, there’s pirates, there’s a lot of adventure. We didn’t want to do anything too serious or too heavy, because this is the first season that we’ve had live on campus in almost two years.”
Because of the pandemic, all of this fall’s shows will be in tents on campus—masks are required for all audience members—which presents an interesting challenge for the actors and crew. Faculty members Evan DelGaudio and Darlene Anastas are assisting the Treasure Island production with lighting and stage design, respectively. All 11 students in the cast each play multiple roles.
“The whole cast has to be a true ensemble,” Fuller said. “The show moves from place to place, so the cast members have to move the set pieces around and recreate the environments. It’s been fun, it’s a different kind of experience.”
Treasure Island opens in the Chapel tent Thursday, November 4 at 7:30 p.m.; it runs Friday, November 5 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 6 at 7 p.m. Tickets are free and can be reserved online.
Wicked Sketchy, which opens Friday, November 12—also in the Chapel tent—has become a Milton favorite since it started in 2014; the show is composed of funny sketches and musical parodies that the 13 cast members write, edit, and perform.
Performing arts faculty member Peter Parisi is directing the show. The last time Wicked Sketchy was performed at Milton, this year’s seniors were freshmen—their fondness for the sketch show inspired its return, Parisi said.
“This one is so different, because we’re not performing indoors, so the audience won’t be as close as they are in a 1212 play,” he said. The 1212 play is traditionally a pared-down, intimate production named for the classroom at Milton where it was first staged decades ago. “So we’ve made a lot of adjustments, and we’ve had some challenges, but it’s been fun.”
“We don’t know what the script is going to be until we create it,” Parisi said. “We’ve gone through several weeks of iterations of dozens of sketches and we’ve landed on nine. What I love about this project is that it makes people laugh. You’re coming together in this one moment, in one space, and you’re laughing together.”
A good sketch is one that makes the audience laugh and think, and in which characters go on a journey, even in a five-page script, Parisi said. This year’s sketches include one in which an amateur magician runs into trouble at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, one that imagines Karl Marx at a high school, Hansel and Gretel in a celebrity encounter, and King Arthur taking the Knights of the Round Table on a human resources retreat.
Watch the Upper School Arts Calendar for details on Wicked Sketchy.