Setting sail: Vagabond Players at William Blount plan rollicking spring performance

Captain Tom Butterworth (Joe Gregory), center, prepares to set sail with his crew portrayed by, from left, Giovannie Bufalini-Balla, Amy Beam and Tyler Keith.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

Captain Tom Butterworth (Joe Gregory), center, prepares to set sail with his crew portrayed by, from left, Giovannie Bufalini-Balla, Amy Beam and Tyler Keith.

The Vagabond Players at William Blount High School have a two story cruise ship sailing through their theater. After they have “set anchor” on their production, however, that cruise ship will become a castle.

The theater students will be using a two-story tall set built to look like a cruise ship for their production of “Don’t Rock the Boat.” The comedy in three acts by Tim Kelly is set for 7 p.m. on April 8 and 9 and at 3 p.m. April 10 at the Patricia B. Lane theatre at William Blount High School.

“We worked really hard to put together a set that will be impressive,” said theater teacher Renda Crowe. “We’re working with Brian Jones, who has built our set, and we are trying to make it look like a Carnival cruise ship. It is actually two stories tall. We’ve gone further than we’ve ever gone with a set.”

Crowe said the theater and choral departments are splitting the cost of the set, which will have a dual purpose.

“The choral department is going to do ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ and they needed a castle that was two stories tall,” Crowe said.

The theater teacher said that when choral teacher Carol Bellgraugh approached about sharing a set, it worked for both departments. “We split the cost, and she will add to it for ‘Beauty and the Beast,’” she said. “It is win-win situation for both the choral and theater departments.”

Crowe said the students are enthusiastic about “Don’t Rock the Boat.”

“It is a comedy, and it is about a cruise ship taken over by a group of pirates,” Crowe said. “It is coming together very well. We’re excited, and the kids have worked really hard. We are eager to get the show on the road.”

This play consists of a cast of 24 students plus a production crew.

Crowe said one of the difficult jobs for a director is to choose the play that fits the cast. “Because of the snow this semester, we were behind two weeks, and so I had to choose something in haste. This was the perfect play that fit the cast I had. We could plug everyone into the parts that were just right for them,” she said.

Crowe said the students are enjoying the play as they progressed through rehearsals. “This play has a lot of laughs, a variety of personalities and a guarantee of a good time for the students as they progressed throughout the play.”

Students Cora Lewis and Courtney Vaughn are public relations managers for the Vagabond Players. Lead character is Capt. Tom Butterworth, accompanied by his sea-sick co-captain and an up-tight cruise director. Butterworth plans to be the youngest cruise ship captain in history with his newly renovated gunboat, the Vengeance.

Lewis said Butterworth has everything going against him. His crew quits and is replaced with a trio of school boys and three young girls posing as the great DeVine sisters, three Hollywood starlets.

Lewis said there is also a crazy, gung-ho nurse who practices giving hypodermic needle injections by stabbing oranges, and a fabulous Hollywood actress determined to star in Hollywood movie producer Victor Bey’s newest film.

“From thieves to hijackings, to love affairs and tragedy, this cruise is sure to bring laughs faster than a speeding torpedo,” said Lewis. “The surprises will leave you guessing.”

The play is written by Tim Kelly and published by Eldridge Publishing. “At the beginning of the semester we had a couple different plays we were looking at and reading through and decided to go with this play,” Lewis said. “I just think it is very funny. There are a bunch of laugh lines. Plus we have a big class, and the cast list is 24 people, so it is works.”

A challenging aspect of the production is there’s plenty of singing. “We’re incorporating two different musical scenes, and we’re really not musical-theater people,” said Lewis. “We’re theater people, so that has been our biggest struggle.”

Lewis portrays an older female passenger on the ship. “My personal favorite part of the play is the dance scene, because we all have to do extra choreography. It is fun,” she said.

“Don’t Rock the Boat” ticket prices for adults are $7, and $5 for students. For more information, call the school at 865-984-5500 or visit the school on Facebook.

The William Blount High School Choral Department’s production is set for 7 p.m. on May 5 and 6 and 2 p.m.

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