RG Productions is performing the classic radio version of “Treasure Island” 2 p.m. Saturday (Aug. 3) at the Kenosha History Center, 220 51st Place.
Robert Louis Stevenson’s beloved 1883 novel was originally adapted by Kenosha native Orson Welles and his Mercury Theater.
“Our cast is most excited to bring their inner pirates to life,” said Nita Hunter, who is directing the free show, timed to coincide with the Tall Ships Festival. “We’ve got kids, pirates, treasure, maps — and the real deal right across the harbor. It’s going to be spectacular.”
Welles’ version aired on July 18, 1938, starring Welles as both Long John Silver and Jim Hawkins. This production features local actor Tony Lazalde, “whose voice is a dead-ringer for Welles,” Hunter said. “Welles had a fascination for pirating and adventure; he later starred in Herman Melville’s classic ‘Moby Dick,’ in 1956.”
RG Productions, a local radio theater troupe, was asked by the city of Kenosha to perform an event to coincide with the Tall Ships Festival .
“Alderman Jan Michalski requested the show as a complement to the Tall Ships Festival,” Hunter said. “It’s also designed to be an alternative to actually visiting the tall ships if that isn’t your thing. We have our fair share of older folks who enjoy our old-time radio re-creations and aren’t likely to attend the festival but still want to enjoy a part of it.”
This is the troupe’s first pirate-centered show, Hunter said.
“The dialogue is traditional ‘talk like a pirate,’ and the characters are iconic: Billy Bones, Long John Silver, Jimmy Hawkins, etc. Think: Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum; pieces of eight; 15 men on a dead man’s chest. We’re having a ball.”
She added, “All the actors are super pumped to do a pirate show in the midst of the Tall Ships Festival. It really adds to the enjoyment of the whole tall ships experience.”
The live sound effects will include an authentic boatswain’s whistle, muskets and cannon sounds, boats crashing and water slapping and swirling.
“I don’t want to reveal our methods,” Hunter said. “You’ll have to come out and see how we do it. Our sound effects artist, Kandy Helson, is the best. She will be assisted by two cast members throughout the production.”
Hunter said her biggest directing challenge is keeping the show moving quickly.
“I want our audience, which I hope will include many children, to be captivated.”
The show runs about an hour. Admission is free, and everyone is welcome. The cast includes John McLaughlin, Tom Jackson, Amy Louise Seyller, Ed Godula, Dan Stika, Philip Jaeger, Jim Kollar, Jay Rattle, and Jan Michalski. Rick Hagerty is the sound engineer.
The show, she said, is appropriate for the whole family.
“In today’s age of sound bites and a lack of experience reading the classics, this is a great way for both adults and children to understand this classic coming of age story that features buccaneers and buried treasure,” said Hunter.
The tall ships can be viewed from the lawn outside the History Center, and the staging area for the sailing tours is across the street.
“It’s a bit separate from the festival itself, but you have all of the advantages of the atmosphere of an authentic pirate experience,” Hunter said. “Having said that, we expect getting there to be a challenge, but we guarantee it will be worth it for this unique and fun experience.”
Getting there: There will be free shuttle services operated by Kenosha Transit during the Tall Ships Festival, Aug. 2-4. The shuttle will provide rides between the festival grounds and the Sail Away Village near the Kenosha Yacht Club (across from the History Center). The shuttle route goes between the Kenosha Yacht Club and the west entrance gate. Shuttle stops are located near 54th Street and Sixth Avenue (east side of Sixth Avenue); at 50th Street and Seventh Avenue (east side of Seventh Avenue); and at the Sail Away Village near the Kenosha Yacht Club.
There will be no parking on Simmons Island starting Friday. Visitors can park downtown or east of the Dream Playground at Petzke Park, 2820 14th Ave., in the fenced Carthage College lot. A free shuttle will drop off riders from that lot to the Kenosha Yacht Club, 5130 Fourth Ave. Additional festival ground parking is available at Indian Trail High School, 6800 60th St. Shuttles run 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday.
Note: There is handicap accessibility on Simmons Island for people who need to be dropped off at the Kenosha History Center.
More event details can be found at kenoshatallships.com.