In its sixth successful year, Lodi's Changing Faces Theater Company is opening "A Pirate's Tale 2: Blood Treasure" tonight at Jessie's Grove Winery.
More than 70 local children, teenagers and adults will display their sword-fighting skills as they present the sequel to "A Pirate's Tale," which was a 2005 summer success.
Directed by Lincoln High School theater teacher Mike Bartram and San Joaquin Delta College student Sabrina Willis, "A Pirate's Tale 2" shows the fast-paced story of good and evil pirates, wild natives of Madagascar and a baroness awaiting her savior. Bartram says the show stands alone as a fun, primarily light-hearted comedy about pirates searching for a treasure on the island of Madagascar. Full of dancing and "swashbuckling" sword fights, "A Pirate's Tale 2" is a show for all ages.
"A Pirate's Tale," parts 1 and 2, was written by former Changing Faces student Michael Vinyard, who is now studying theater in Southern California. Students also did most other aspects of the production including costuming, set design, acting and dining arrangements.
It's not just students learning how to make a theater production run smoothly. There's a message that Tokay High School senior Lacey Herman would like the audience to grasp.
"Every single character has a lesson and moral that we try to show. I hope they walk away with a life lesson and a big smile," Herman said.
Though she is soft-spoken and a little shy, there is a boisterous side to Herman that is released when she plays Stewart, the rugged female pirate who wears baggy men's pirate pants and doesn't think sword fighting is limited to men.
"She's a very strong, independent woman, which is kind of cool because I'm quiet and reserved," she said.
Each actor is passionate about the company and this year's play. Everyone involved spent nearly every day of summer practicing from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Actress and Delta College theater student Carolyn Collins said peoples' dedication to this play has been incredible, nothing like what she experienced with high school theater.
"The hours are hard - they take up a lot of the summer. But it's definitely worth it," said Collins, who will play Lucy in half of the performances. "Everyone wants to be at Changing Faces. We all choose to be there."
On stage and behind the scenes, most people involved with "A Pirate's Tale 2: Blood Treasure" say the experience is something they never want to forget.
"Changing Faces is amazing. I love it," said 10-year-old Arianna DeLeon, who plays Liz. "You are introduced to the most amazing people. And every year, you put on a great play."
DeLeon has been acting with Changing Faces since she was 8. She performed in "A Pirate's Tale" as Jezebel, a bad pirate and as the role of Puck in last year's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
Location: Jessie's Grove Winery, 1973 Turner Road
Times: 6:30 p.m. dinner, 8 p.m. show
Tickets: $35; You may purchase $20 show-only tickets for July 19 and 26 shows.
Box office: 570-2743
Other: Tickets include an Italian dinner catered by Wholey Ravioli, wine tasting, dessert, a pirate marketplace and a pre-show. The show is outdoors, so take a light jacket or blanket.
The well-spoken, Lodi Seventh Day Adventist Elementary school student, who has dreams of becoming an actress appreciates the camaraderie she find each year at Changing Faces.
"The closer we are, the better the show is," she said. "I would do anything for my theater group."
She says one of her cast mates sums it up best: "'Don't just be a cast; be a family.'"
For the past six years, Changing Faces has been a summer-only program that Bartram leads when he's not teaching. Currently sponsored partially by the Lodi Arts Commission, Bartram hopes that Changing Faces Theater Company will soon evolve into a year-round program that will allow students to continually be involved in theater arts.