Cloudland Elementary puts on a swashbuckling rendition of ‘Pirates! The Musical’

Published 8:43 am Monday, May 20, 2019

It is not often one would willingly pay for a ticket for an elementary school play when they can see it for free. Yet the spectacular performance put on by some extremely talented kids at Cloudland Elementary Friday might have changed their minds.

The school’s program billed the event “Pirates! The Musical by John Jacobson & Roger Emerson.” Both Jacobson and Emerson are professional musical composers and playwrights. Their works are used worldwide in many events such as the school play put on by Cloudland.

The audience in attendance was first given an artistic appetizer when first-graders kicked off the show by singing songs such as a sweetly “Sail Away” and an adorable “Baby Shark.” They also got to meet East Tennessee State University’s mascot, the buccaneer pirate Bucky.

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The plot of Pirates! was the only thing simple by the otherwise complicated composition and choreography of the performance. In the story, pirates discover a stowaway on board who wants to be a pirate. What follows next is the decision of granting her wish, and this is where the hard work begins. They leave the decision to “King of the High C’s.” Ultimately, the stowaway gets her wish when the sea king puts her on his shoulders and announces she was a pirate.

While it is sometimes expected in school plays that there will be some flubbed lines and off key singing, Cloudland’s third through fifth-graders nailed it.

“After only two months to learn and rehearse, the skills the kids brought [to the show] were words, melody, movement and dialog,” said Chris Cook, the school’s musical director for 23 years. She added that the kids have become master storytellers.

The part of the stowaway was played by two identical twins who shared the role, Eowyn and Savannah McCoury. School counselor and local church pastor Brandon Young metamorphosed into the King of High C’s. Rounding out the cast were 80 students with more than half with speaking parts.

The scenery and costumes were the hard work of “…seaworthy moms, Bridgette Barnette, Ashley Turbyfill and Brittany Shell.”