In his new musical produced by Union College, Mike Mennard as crusty Captain Scrooge learns the true meaning of Christmas spirit with the help of some famous pirates of the past. (Photo by Scott Cushman.)
Ahoy mateys! Set sail with Union College for a fantastical voyage in Mike Mennard’s new musical, “Captain Scrooge and the Curse of the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” In his follow-up to the 2010 hit “That’s What Makes Them Pirates,” the cast of Union College students and alums will delight audiences of all ages as crusty Captain Scrooge—played by Mennard—learns the value of Christmas spirit thanks to his kindly first mate, Bob Cratchit, and a little help from pirates of the past.
“Of all projects I’ve ever worked on, there’s not one I’ve been more excited about,” said Mennard. “When you think about Scrooge, he seems like a pirate.”
Certainly, Old Man Scrooge in a pirate motif does not play out like the typical Dickens’ story–especially for a Christmas story produced in March. Hold onto your hats, mateys. The classic Christmas story of Scrooge just took an unusual twist.
“We hope to create a whole new theater experience with this play,” said Brett Hadley, “Captain Scrooge” director. “From the moment they walk in the door, kids and adults will enjoy a magical world of piratey fun. It’s something we plan to continue every year—a great interactive experience for families”
Hadley, Union’s new director of the theater program, brings a wealth of theater experience—directing more than 20 shows. He also worked on a team that designed the ship sets used in several Pirates of the Caribbean movies. “I think families will love this play,” he said. “Mike’s humor has something for everyone and the show will be interactive—the audience will be involved.”
“It’s a Scrooge story in pirate style with very definite twists in the story,” said Mennard, who also plays the title role. “This play is not just a spectator sport; expect to be surprised.”
Well known in Lincoln for his kid-friendly music and zany humor, Mike Mennard has been recording and performing music for kids for 12 years. He has recorded 10 albums—seven solo projects and three with his band, the award-winning Mighty Magic Pants.
“Who doesn’t love pirates?” Mennard asked, acknowledging his affinity for the plundering seafarers. “Aside from the killing, plundering, and pillaging, they’re great.” He has recorded two pirate-themed albums, “Pirates Do the Darndest Things” and “It’s a Pirate’s World,” and in 2010 Union College produced his first musical, “That’s What Makes the Pirates.”
The nautical world for “Captain Scrooge” will be created in Woods Auditorium on the Union College campus March 17-27. General admission tickets cost $10, and students and senior citizen tickets cost $7, available at www.ucollege.edu/drama. Additionally families can also enjoy Pirate Jake’s Trading Posts featuring a wide variety of piratey paraphernalia.
The crew of the Ol’ Queen’s Wiffer
Mennard will set sail surrounded by a talented cast of Union College students and alums who enjoy the plot twists and unique, Mennard-style humor. Ben VandeVere, senior music performance major, plays the role of Bob Cratchit, the eternally optimistic first mate of the Ol’ Queen’s Sniffer. “Audiences can expect an amazingly wild and adventurous experience that the whole family can enjoy,” he said. “A good mix of piratey humor and catchy musical numbers, it’s sure to leave the audience with a spring in their step and an ‘Arrr!’ on their lips.”
He will be joined by Madison Wagnaar, a senior Business Administration student, who plays two roles in the musical: Mr. Crypt–a female disguised as a male pirate–and Kate Cratchit, Bob’s wife. “The special effects, lighting and sets are elaborate and wonderful, like Union has never seen before!” she said.
Adding to the talented cast is English Language Arts Education sophomore Jesse Evert, who is currently involved in four other play productions. Evert recently finished writing a historical pageant about Union College’s history to premiere during Homecoming Weekend later this year and she is co-writing and directing a “modified version of Prince of Egypt”—the Biblical story of Joseph.
“With the brilliant mind of Mike Mennard perfectly blending comedy with catchy songs and a heartwarming message, this musical wonderfully combines the dark and somber life of a pirate with holiday merriment that steals itself into everyone’s heart,” said Evert. “The story is filled with captivating twists and turns that will leave you on the edge of your seat. Everyone should see this musical. The songs are endearing and I guarantee you’ll leave with them stuck in your head. The production entirely immerses you in the life of a pirate, and you will leave satisfied.”
Mennard’s son, Ramsey, also stars in the musical as Fred (Scrooge’s nephew) and Blackbeard.
By Stefani Lepper