ABINGDON, Va. – Yo, ho, ho! Barter Theatre is settin' sail for the pirate adventure of a lifetime with "Treasure Island!" Shiver me timbers, young Jim Hawkins is seeking buried treasure and facing dangerous pirates at the State Theatre of Virginia.
"Treasure Island," the classic novel written by Robert Louis Stevenson, adds to the long list of Barter hits via Richard Rose adaptations, including "Frankenstein," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "Alice in Wonderland."
Young Jim Hawkins (portrayed by Kevin O'Bryan from Barter's "It's a Wonderful Life") finds himself on an incredible adventure to find the lost treasure of the evil Captain Flint. But when the ship's cook – the infamous Long John Silver (Will Stutts) – and the crew turn out to be dangerous pirates themselves, Jim must grow up quickly and choose to either confront the danger or risk losing his life.
"This story is considered a coming-of-age story, which interestingly enough, is usually something more associated in literature for young girls," said Rose. "Stevenson's book is about a young boy learning the way toward adulthood through missteps, observation and a search for a role model who can teach him how to maneuver male society."
The men are faced with dangerous situations and must keep fighting to move forward. Sword fighting is a big part of the show.
That's why Barter brought in Michael Chin, master fight choreographer. Chin has been choreographing stage combat all over the country for the past 20 years.
Presently a part of the full-time faculty at Julliard in New York City, Chin is a professional actor, as well as master instructor and fight choreographer with the Society of American Fight Directors.
Chin first appeared as an actor in "Peter Pan" at Barter in the 1990s and has since returned to do the fight choreography for "Camelot," "Hamlet" and "King Lear."
"I am thrilled to be back at Barter to choreograph Rose's "Treasure Island,'" said Chin.
Barter's cast will be working with dangerous weapons; it is Chin's job to make the fights look real while choreographing so that the actors remain safe. "There is a fine line between fear for the actor and fear for the character," said Chin.
While in your character, Chin explains, you must not show fear for the actor, but always be aware of what you are doing so no one gets hurt.
Costumes go hand-in-hand with fight choreography – just as in regular choreography. Long time wig and makeup designer, Ryan Fischer, who also designed the wigs and makeup for "The Wizard of Oz," will be tackling his first show as costume designer with "Treasure Island."
"We decided to go for a playful tone with some grit," said Ryan.
"Audiences are really going to be drawn into this show; be pulled in and go on this fantastic adventure with the characters," added Fischer.
In celebration of treasure hunting, some Abingdon merchants are getting on board with the fun. Barter Theatre has posted a clue on their social media sites, Facebook and Twitter, and their website. That clue will begin an Abingdon-wide treasure hunt. Participants who complete the treasure hunt will get their own "pieces of eight." The Abingdon-wide treasure hunt will last through the run of "Treasure Island," April 16. Each Friday, a name will be drawn from those who have completed the hunt to win a free "Treasure Island" T-Shirt.
For more information, call Barter Theatre at 276.628.3991 or visit www.BarterTheatre.com.