Swashbuckling, thirilling heroics take stage at MHS

 Hannah Condello (blue dress) leads a charge (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

For the last 22 years, the McNary theatre department has staged a Shakespeare show in the spring, including last year’s Much Ado About Nothing. This year, and after much discussion, the students were ready for a change. Coming this month, attendees will have the chance to see a show full of adventure, danger, and comedy in McNary’s version of the classic story Treasure Island

By playwright Ken Ludwig, based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, the show opens at 7 p.m. and will run from Wednesday, May 15 through Saturday, May 18, with an additional showing on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the McNary Ken Collins Auditorium. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the door or online at  

The story begins with the main character Jim Hawkins (played by Hannah Condello) at an inn on the Devon coast of England in 1775, and quickly changes to a tale of adventure and treachery featuring a host of swashbucklers including Billy Bones (Xena Lane), Israel Hands (Jacob Fritts), Anne Bonney (Dylan Lopez) and Long John Silver (Grace Trammell). The play will stick closely to the original story, but McNary Theatre will put its own spin on a few things. 

Director Tom Cavanaugh said, “We wanted to make sure it wasn’t just the Treasure Island that everybody read when people or moms told them about it or old movies that people had seen. We wanted to make it our own.” Some of the theatre’s personal touches will include comedy, a man-eating crab and student choreographed sword fighting, which is a big aspect of the play. 

After teaching the students basic sword fighting techniques Cavanaugh released them to create their own fight scenes. “I have a firm belief that the kids will come up with more creative stuff then I’ll ever be able to come up with, so what I did with the students was teach them how to use the swords and use them safely.” 

In addition to the sword fighting, Cavanaugh is excited to be working with new students. “I have a lot of students in this show I have never worked with before, and a lot of students in big parts that have never had a big part before, so I am just really excited for the opportunity for new students to get out and really get out there and try some crazy stuff.”

Two of the new students taking lead roles are Condello and Trammell, who will be playing two characters who have a good-guy-bad-guy dynamic in the story. 

“Normally I would not pick myself as the villain,” Trammell said, “But I go back and forth and that’s what’s so fun about my character because I fight with both the good guys and the bad guys.”

Both Condello and Trammell are friends, and when asked about their relationship on stage they both chuckled. Condello said, “It works really well because we are both friends outside of it.” 

Trammell laughed and responded, “It’s an interesting contrast to be friends one moment and enemies the next.”

In addition to his excitement to work with new students, Cavanaugh added: “It will be a bit of a mixed bag, but it should be fun and if anything else this show should be entertaining.”