PCT Sets Sail with Tree House Adventure

First Mate Christian Strongage (age 13) rallies the crew in the Pickerington Community Theater presentation of Magic Tree House: Pirates Past Noon opening March 6 at the Wigwam Theater. Crew mates surrounding Strong are: Ashton “The Atrocious” Leyland (age 13), Cameron Wilson (age 11) as Cabin Boy Jonah, Adelina Luther (age 9) as Natalie and Brandon Hudepohl (age 14) as Billy.

The newest production from the Pickerington Community Theater (PCT) is an exciting musical based on a children’s book.  The actors and most of the stage crew are kids, but the Magic Tree House: Pirates Past Noon is a good time for all ages.

The play opens Friday, March 6, at the Wigwam Theater, 10190 Blacklick-Eastern Rd NW, and runs through March 15.  Showtimes are 8 pm on Fridays with 2 pm matinees on Saturdays and Sundays.

Pirates Past Noon, directed by Amanda Tuttle, marks the third time that the PCT has performed an adaptation of Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House book series.

“The Magic Tree House books are full of magic and adventure, so are a natural fit for the spectacle of theatre,” said Tuttle. “With a little ingenuity and adaptability in special effects, sounds, props, and set design, the stories are funny, lighthearted, and entirely engrossing.”

For those who have enjoyed the previous Magic Tree House performances, Pirates Past Noon continues the adventures of Jack (Mason Peirano) and Annie (Myah Paxton) as they are kidnapped by a ruthless pirate named Captain Bones (Oliver Bernstein). The Captain forces the kids to search an exotic island for hidden treasure.

In the end, Jack and Annie work together with the Captain’s pirate crew to accomplish something that no one could have done alone, said Cameron Wilson, who plays Cabin Boy Jonah. 

“The lesson of the story is money cannot buy happiness,” Wilson said.

Photo Provided by Dianne Gallaugher of the PCT.

Wilson attends St. Pius School in Reynoldsburg.

Christian Strong, who emcees the show in the role of First Mate, agrees with Wilson that the story has a good moral that applies to everyone.

“You can find treasure in things other than gold,” said Strong. “There is a huge lesson in this.  I really hope people see the show as something not just for kids but for adults.”

Strong, an eighth grader at Lakeview Junior High, said that when audiences see how good the show is, the cast will earn the same respect as adult actors.

Ashton Leyland, who also is an eighth grader at Lakeview who plays a pirate, believes that the show’s positive message and upbeat music could help people who feel depressed.

“It’s really fun to see,” Leyland said. “As a kid I grew up reading the Magic Tree House books, and I like listening to happy music.  We all dance backstage!”

This production raises the sense of tension and excitement of the previous installments by implementing a more dynamic style of music and different technical effects for the magical tree house itself.

Additionally, the set itself “had a few more set design challenges, given that action takes place not only on a pirate ship, but at open sea and on land,” Tuttle said.

Brandon Hudepohl, also an eighth-grade pirate from Lakeview, enjoys the unique production and its songs with “cool harmonies”.

“There is a lot of energy in the play,” Hudepohl said. “It is exciting all the time whether it is joyous or suspenseful.”

Olivia Achtermann, a fifth grader at Diley Middle School who plays a seagull, says that actors have “potential” that adults will appreciate, and that the music is fun.

“It’s kinda got a beat to it,” Achtermann said.  “I always sing it in my head at school.”  

Out of 86 children who auditioned, only 33 were cast.  Ridgeview Junior High seventh-grader Julian Oconer is honored that he won the role of the pirate Pinky.

“This is an amazing experience,” Oconer said.  “Out of that many people, we were chosen for this play!”

Oconer said that the play was originally planned for a cast of 25, but the director expanded the roster to accommodate more talented kids.

“PCT tries to bring out the potential in kids,” Hudepohl said.  “They try to give everyone chances.”

PCT President Chris Gallaugher said that although it was a stretch to accommodate a larger cast, it was important to be as inclusive as possible.  In today’s electronics-driven world, live theater is a unique experience.

“For kids especially, it helps them to develop confidence when they get up on stage,” Gallaugher said.

To many of the kids, PCT has become like a second home.

Photo Provided by Dianne Gallaugher of the PCT.

“Everyone is so talented, and everyone is genuinely nice,” Strong said. “It feels like a huge family where whatever you want to become you can be.”

Tickets for individual showings of Pirates Past Noon are $17 for adults, $15 for seniors (55 and older) and $15 for children (12 and under).  They may be purchased at the door, via the website www.PCTshows.com or by phone at (614) 508-0036.

The Magic Tree House: Pirates Past Noon is the first of four shows for PCT this year.  Season tickets are available for $60 for adults and $48 for seniors (55 and over) and students (12 and under), which is a savings of 10-20% off the individual show prices.

The other productions in 2020 are Guys & Dolls, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and It’s a Wonderful Life.  All shows take place at the Wigwam Theater.

The PCT is a volunteer organization.  Expenses are mostly covered through ticket sales, but they do hold fundraisers including one on March 8 at Mod Pizza, 1301 Hill Road North.

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