Avast, me hearties!

Julie CoppensUncategorized

STAR students to perform epic adventures
Bloody Blackbeard and Pericles,
July 19-21 at Perseverance Theatre;

composer Laurelyn Dossett bound for Juneau

Legendary heroes and villains conquer the seas and cross the galaxy in a pair of epic adventures performing July 19-21 at Perseverance Theatre, by the students of STAR: the swashbuckling new musical Bloody Blackbeard, written by Preston Lane with songs by Laurelyn Dossett, directed by Julie York Coppens; and an original space-age take on Shakespeare’s Pericles, adapted by Coppens and staged by Perseverance Theatre’s new managing director, Frank Delaney.

STAR (Summer Theatre Arts Rendezvous), Perseverance Theatre’s long-running summer youth acting program, combines production experience with professional instruction, giving young people of all backgrounds and abilities a chance to build skills, develop confidence, and have fun with their peers. The shows’ creative crews also include music director Rick Trostel, choreographer Hali Duran, assistant directors Lillian Odekirk and Rachel Iofolla, performance coach Brita Fagerstrom, costume designer Ruth Fulwiler, technical director/set designer Sarah Moretz, and stage managers Virginia Roldan and Sarah Everett. These Alaskan artists are guiding 30 students from all over Juneau, ages 9-16, on a three-week theatre marathon culminating in one weekend packed with performances—perfect summer entertainment for the whole family.

Singer/songwriter Laurelyn Dossett.

In addition, Bloody Blackbeard composer Laurelyn Dossett will be in Juneau July 15-21 to work with the STAR company, lead a free community songwriting workshop at the Douglas Library, and perform around town (details below). A prominent American Roots singer-songwriter from the Piedmont region of North Carolina, Dossett has created a half-dozen folklore-inspired musicals with Preston Lane, artistic director of Triad Stage in Greensboro; Bloody Blackbeard premiered there in 2008, in a different form, and Perseverance will be the first theatre to stage this new one-act version specially tailored for the young STAR cast. The Pericles script likewise has been re-imagined, and strategically shortened from Shakespeare’s original, for maximum fun and student learning.

A musical, mythical ghost story with a modern-day frame, Bloody Blackbeard chronicles the infamous seafaring career of Edward Teach, a.k.a. Blackbeard, who terrorized the American colonial coast in the early 1700s. A dashing figure, he also captured (and shattered) many female hearts. Juneau students Eva Miller and Miles Caldwell play the young and mature Blackbeard, respectively.    

“Blackbeard is always hungry for something more, be it a lover, a good fight, or the fear of a foe,” says Caldwell, a rising junior at Thunder Mountain High School. “It is fun to be able to indulge in a character that is powerful and unrestrained… but it takes effort to maintain nuance, and go beyond a presence to a personality, a character. The show is at its core the story of a damned man, both by his actions, and his obsession. The character is not sympathetic, yet the audience may still grow a connection, by seeing him develop.” 

Named for a hero of the Greek Golden Age, Pericles, meanwhile, is one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known works; the surviving text is rough, and scholars have long debated its authorship. Coppens’ one-act adaptation, titled Pericles 2216: The Intergalactic Adventures of the Prince of Tyre, “keeps all the good parts,” she says, while transporting Pericles’ unlikely triumphs, tragedies, and ultimate happy ending from the ancient Mediterranean to a futuristic outer space. The fantastical setting helps solve some of the play’s narrative and thematic problems for a young cast, Coppens adds; for instance, turning certain characters into aliens “preserves the story’s essentials but reduces the cringe factor” of a human trafficking episode involving Pericles’ long-lost teenage daughter, Marina.         

“These are two imaginative, fast-moving, far-ranging ensemble shows that could only happen here at Perseverance Theatre, with these exceptional teaching artists and our hard-working kids,” says Coppens. “I think Juneau audiences are going to be blown away by what these companies have accomplished in three short weeks—and for the students, to have the shows’ creators right there on board with them is empowering and inspiring.”      

Performance Details

Bloody Blackbeard

A swashbuckling musical by Preston Lane, with songs by Laurelyn Dossett; directed by Julie York Coppens

Performs 7 p.m. July 19 (Opening Night Showcase, Act 1); 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday, July 20; and 4 p.m. Sunday, July 21.

Pericles 2216: The Intergalactic Adventures of the Prince of Tyre

Adapted by Julie York Coppens from the play by William Shakespeare; directed by Frank Delaney

Performs 7 p.m. July 19 (Opening Night Showcase, Act 2), 4 p.m. Saturday July 20, and 1 and 7 p.m. Sunday July 21.

Performances are on the Mainstage at Perseverance Theatre, 914 Third Street in Douglas. Tickets for Opening Night Showcase (both shows) are $25 for general admission, $15 for students; tickets for Saturday and Sunday single shows are $15 general admission, $10 for students. Tickets now on sale at www.ptalaska.org or call 907-463-TIXS.  

Additional STAR Events

Community Songwriting Workshop with Laurelyn Dossett

6-8 p.m. Wednesday, July 17, Douglas Public Library Conference Room

The Bloody Blackbeard composer shares her songwriting secrets. All levels welcome; admission free.

Laurelyn Dossett: Songs for the Stage

7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 18 in the Centennial Hall Ballroom Lobby

An evening of original show tunes set deep in the heart, direct from the back porch of the American musical theatre. Tickets $20, available at the JACC/Vendini or at the door.

Laurelyn Dossett: Carolina Roots

10 p.m.-midnight Saturday, July 20 at McGivney’s Sports Bar and Grill (Valley location), 9105 Mendenhall Mall Road

A down-home set of acoustic country, folk and gospel from the visiting composer of Bloody Blackbeard. No cover.

Still to Come: STAR Finale Week

Perseverance Theatre’s STAR program is offering one more week of half-day camps for ages 5 and up, July 22-26. Scholarships available for students in need; contact STAR director Julie Coppens for details at juliec@ptalaska.org, or call her directly at 907-796-9031.

PT Peewees: Creative drama for ages 5-7

9:30 a.m.-noon, Monday-Friday, July 22-26

Instructors: Virginia Roldan, Rachel Iofolla

Tuition: $200

PT Next Level: Theatre games and more for ages 7-11

1-4 p.m., Monday-Friday, July 22-26

Instructors: Brita Fagerstrom, Sarah Everett

Tuition: $200

Just added! Tech Theatre Boot Camp for ages 12-18

1-4 p.m., Monday-Friday, July 22-26

Instructors: Sarah Moretz, assisted by Perseverance company members

Tuition: $100

Space is limited, so don’t delay! For more details and to register, please see our website, www.ptalaska.org/star-program, or call 907-463-TIXS.