Treasure Island, an American "Panto," Begins Nov. 14 in Philly | Playbill

News Treasure Island, an American "Panto," Begins Nov. 14 in Philly
Songs by Barrymore Award-winning composer Michael Ogborn sweeten People's Light & Theatre Company's world-premiere holiday "panto," Treasure Island, written by Kathryn Petersen, starting Nov. 14.

Inspired by the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, and boasting music and lyrics by Michael Ogborn, who penned the Barrymore-honored Baby Case, the raucous theatrical event will continue to Dec. 30 on the PL&TC Main Stage, 39 Conestoga Road, in Malvern, PA — near Philadelphia. Opening is Nov. 17.


David Bradley directs the American take on the old British panto tradition. This is People's Light's fourth panto-style show, "a tradition borrowed from England, where almost every town has a panto during the holiday season," according to the troupe. "Pantos are a mix between a 'fractured fairy tale' and a variety show."

Dramaturg Lee Devin stated, "Pantos are exuberantly larger than life. They use familiar stories to form the basis for exaggeration, variation and topical social commentary, as well as outrageous jokes and rollicking songs and dances."

Treasure Island "incorporates traditional Panto standards, including audience participation (in the form of cheering the heroes and booing the villains), candy passed out to audience members, and a 'silly song' that inspires an audience sing-a-long." "With our holiday panto," stated artistic director Abigail Adams, "we feel that we've developed a tradition that both we and our audiences love. Not only that, but all ages seem to love it. Just like the more sophisticated animated films, there are some jokes aimed at adults and many jokes and pranks for the kids to laugh at."

Some regular panto cast members return this year in key roles. Erin Weaver plays the lead character of Jamie Hawkins, and Mark Lazar is the "Grand Dame" in the gender-bent role of Jamie Hawkins's mom. Familiar characters include the "comic duo," this year played by Susan McKey and Pete Pryor in the roles of Evelyn Treelawnee and Captain Smilenot, and an evil villain, played by Ian Bedford in the role of Long John Silver.

The troupe also includes Ben Dibble, Joilet Harris, Maggie Fitzgerald, Chris Faith, Matt Hultgren, Justin Jain and Jefferson Haynes.

New to the creative team this year is composer and lyricist Michael Ogborn, who penned ten original songs for the project.

Stated Ogborn, "It was fun to research the traditional British Panto and discover the differences and similarities with American musical theatre. My goal was to serve the story, the form and to entertain adults and children alike, while having a great time myself! The score is equal parts joy, romance, comedy, and of course, melodrama."

Philly native (and now New York City resident) Ogborn's Baby Case, a musical fantasia about the kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh's son, won four Barrymore Awards including Outstanding Music and Best Musical of the Year. It was produced by Arden Theatre Company. He also penned Café Puttanesca and Box Office of the Damned, and is currently at work with playwright Michael Hollinger on the musical Tulipomania, commissioned by the Arden Theatre Company.

Musical direction and additional vocal arrangements are by David Ames. The creative team includes scenic designer James F. Pyne, Jr.; costume designer Rosemarie E. McKelvey; lighting designer Paul Hackenmueller; sound designer/stage manager Charles T. Brastow; fight and movement choreographer Samantha Bellomo; and dramaturg Elizabeth Pool.

For more information visit (610) 644-3500 or visit

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