Report: ‘Jingle ARRGH the Way’ by Encore Stage and Studio

Nothing says Christmas like Pirates, am I right?! Well, Encore Stage & Studio’s production of Jingle ARRGH the Way follows Captain Braid Beard and his crew as they sail to the North Pole in search of Christmas Treasure. The group of characters was first seen in the musical How to Become a Pirate, based on the story of the same name, by Melinda Long. Book, Music, and Lyrics for both musicals are by Janet Yates Vogt and Mark Friedman.

The cast of 'Jingle ARRGH the Way.' Photo by Aileen Pangan Christian.
The cast of ‘Jingle ARRGH the Way.’ Photo by Aileen Pangan Christian.

Encore Stage & Studio is a learning theater, therefore the cast and many of the crew are aspiring artists. Sarah B. Markovits serves as Director for the young cast, with Mara Stewart choreographing the many fun songs.

In Jingle ARRGH the Way, a mysterious message is discovered by the pirate mates and they seek out their young friend, Jeremy Jacob (Lillian Try), to help them solve the riddle. Jeremy readily agrees but insists that he must be back home in time to perform in his school’s Christmas play, which he is concerned about because many in his cast are sick and Jeremy worries that the show may not go on.

As they journey North, the group plays games, encounters icebergs, and even Polar bears. The pirates sing Christmas songs like “A Pirate Carol-Deck the Halls” (Fa-la-la-la-la, and Yo-ho-ho). And the French pirate cook Pierre (Vivien Williams), sings about “Zee Perfect Christmas Cookie”.

Once in the North Pole, they meet the Big Man himself. Captain Braid Beard (Christopher Federico) and Santa (Brian Tatum) share an uncanny resemblance, with their beards and big bellies. Even their famous expressions “Ho-ho-ho” and “Yo-ho-ho” are similar. But when the men tell Santa of their hunt for treasure, Santa explains to the scurvy crew that the real gift of Christmastime is not silver and gold, but the spirit of giving, singing “The Real Treasure”.

Upon Santa’s suggestion that Captain Braid Beard and his men “lend” their skills to Jeremy Jacob so that his school play can go on, the Captain proclaims that “Pirates Don’t Act”!  But then the fearsome pirate, Sharktooth (Kate Oliver), admits that he has been performing in the Nutcracker (and sings “I’m a Star”) and everyone is inspired to help Jeremy.

Brian Tatum in 'Jingle ARRGH the Way.' Photo by Aileen Pangan Christian.
Brian Tatum in ‘Jingle ARRGH the Way.’ Photo by Alana Gibson.

The kids in the cast are clearly dedicated and having a blast. The rest of the talented cast includes Bridgett Schaller (Swill), Elizabeth Burkholder (Max), and the Pirates and Elves are played by Jackie Bruen, Matthew Craugh, Ellie Denney, Jacob Fridman, Jordan Funk, Rachel Grooms, Samantha Grooms, Marley Hegtvedt, Evan Holt, Angie Kaminsky, Mercedes Kim, Rina Kopylev, Meredith Lawler, Alison Link, Purvi Oberkirsch, Sanaa Rodriguez, Charlotte Rohr, Molly Savage, and Libby Smith.  

The show is silly and sweet, with the positive message that the spirit of Christmas is truly about generosity, kindness, and selflessness, instead of presents and money.

The show is recommended for children four and up and is a nice way to introduce children to the magic of theater while celebrating the holidays.

Encore Stage & Studio offers classes, camps, and workshops for many ages and works toward their mission of building “lifelong appreciation for live theatre by involving young people in all aspects of theatre arts-on-stage, backstage, in the classroom, and in the audience.” Their production of Jingle ARRGH the Way follows that tradition while spreading the joy of Christmas.   

Running Time: 70 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.

Jingle ARRGH the Way! plays through December 9, 2018, at Encore Stage & Studio performing at The Gunston Arts Center, Theatre One -2700 S. Lang St, in Arlington, VA. For tickets, call the box office at (703) 548-1154, or purchase them online.

Susan Alison Keady (Artistic Director), Debra Leonard (Costume & Make-up Designer), Kristen Jepperson (Technical Director, Set Design & Build), Gary Hauptman (Lighting Director), Kevin Curry (Sound Consultant), Amanda Nell (Props Designer), Jim Clancy (Fight Choreographer)