As America's second oldest children's theater, DavenportJunior Theatre now is presenting the 1883 pirate classic "Treasure Island" for the first time.
"When deciding what shows to do this season, we knew we wanted an adventure," Daniel Sheridan, DJT artistic director, said this week. "It struck me that 'Treasure Island' hadnever been performed by DJT. After reading many versions of the show, we finallysettled on a great adaptation by Rex Stephenson."
The show, set in a late 19th-century single-room school, is brought to life by theimaginations of the kids in the show and in the audience, Mr. Sheridan said. The school room becomesan adventure on the high seas.
Founded in 1951, Davenport Junior Theatre is the second-oldest children's theater in the U.S. Classes and camps are offered year-round in theater and dance tostudents ages 3 to 18.
"Treasure Island" is part of the DJT Mainstage Series, which hires professionals indesign and direction to work with the kids. One of those professionals is TomTaylor, the show's director.
"It's a clever adaptation," Mr. Taylor said. "You get a little youthful fun mixed withthe dangerous adventure you expect from its well-known title. It's quite an arc."
A graduate of the University of Iowa, Mr. Taylor has directed 10-minute plays and readings of original works in Iowa City, but this is his first time atthe helm of a full-scale production.He has appeared as an actor inproductions at Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, the QC Theatre Workshop (most recently seen in "Private Eyes") and NewGround Theatre.
"I'm having a blast," said Sam Jones, senior at Assumption High School and one ofthe leads in "Treasure Island." "Tom is so passionate about the play and really forcesus to think about our characters. You can tell he is an actor too."
"I'm blown away by the kids' professionalism and willingness to try anything," Mr.Taylor said. "Their work and dedication tops most adults I know. It is an honor tolead them."
DJT presents the 70-minute adventure Saturday at1 and 4 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., and the same times on Saturday, Feb. 23 and Sunday, Feb. 24. Tickets are$5 for anyone 3 years and older.
For more information, visit DavenportJuniorTheatre.org.