The Mystery of the Pirate Ghost

January 12 – February 17, 2013
Saturdays & Sundays at 11am & 1pm

“The best kids’ show I’ve seen at the theater… Everything is really singing in this premiere. Barsotti’s script excels beyond that of most kids’ plays, crisply moving the story along while peppering in genuinely funny moments.”  –Time Out Chicago Kids

“Lifeline Theatre’s adaptation brings us all of the excitement, suspense, and spookiness of a ghost hunt, complete with delightful characters and thrilling visuals.”  –Chicago Theater Beat

A burglar is at large in Boogle Bay and the prime suspect is none other than the ghost of the infamous pirate Blackeye Doodle. Hungry for adventure, young Otto and Uncle Tooth set out to capture the mischievous thief and recover the stolen goods. But all is not as it seems, and soon Otto must reach out to a troubled outsider and help him learn the value of honesty and hard work. A heartwarming adventure for children of all ages, with music, swashbuckling, and spooky fun!

Recommended for kids 5 and up. Children under 2 are not permitted.

Based on the book The Mystery of the Pirate Ghost by Geoffrey Hayes 
Adapted by Scott T. Barsotti 
Music by Troy Martin and Matt Test 
Directed by Paul S. Holmquist

Excerpt from The Mystery of the Pirate Ghost

  • Casey Cunningham (Otto)

    Casey is thrilled to be making her Lifeline debut in this amazing show! Recent credits include The Life of DeathKill Me, and Deathscribe 2012 with WildClaw Theatre, where she is a company member and casting director. Casey has also worked with Adventure Stage Chicago, Route 66 Theatre Company, the Ruckus (where she is a current Artist in Residence), and many others. Casey is a graduate of the School at Steppenwolf and sings in a band called ElvisBride.

  • Josh Douglas (Uncle Tooth)

    Josh is excited to make his Lifeline Theatre debut in The Mystery of the Pirate Ghost. In his short time in the Windy City he has performed in The Circus Princess and The Cousin From Nowhere with Chicago Folks Operetta and was last seen as the Jester in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Elektra. Past St. Louis credits include: The Who’s Tommy (Uncle Ernie), Urinetown (Officer Barrel), Tape (Jon), Guys and Dolls (Nicely Nicely Johnson), As You Like It (Oliver), and Lend Me a Tenor (Tito Merelli). Josh received his B.S. in Theatre Performance from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville in 2009.

  • Conor McCahill (Joe Puffin/Ducky Doodle)

    Conor is a 2010 graduate of the Theatre School at DePaul University, where he received a BFA in Acting. He was born and raised in the cold mountain air of Colorado and fell in love with theatre at a young age. He integrated himself into every level of theatre during high school becoming involved in makeup, costumes, scenic design, properties, and found himself a niche in playwrighting and on the stage itself. He is a working company member of Nothing Without a Company with whom he is exploring new interests in graphic design and slam poetry. He recently appeared in Adventure Stage’s production of And A Child Shall Lead and Griffin Theatre’s No More Dead Dogs and in the 2012 indie film Nate and Margaret, directed by Nathan Addloff.

  • Deanna Myers (Auntie Hick/Widow Mole)

    Deanna is thrilled to be making her debut with Lifeline in this exciting adventure! Chicago credits include Cinderella in The Weaver’s Tales (Fifth House Ensemble), El Stories (The Waltzing Mechanics), Steppenwolf’s First Look Series, Second City’s Mary Scruggs Festival, Catharsis Productions, and Barrel of Monkeys. Her first feature film, The Drunk, will be released this winter. Deanna holds a BA in Theatre and Philosophy from University of Illinois, Chicago.

  • Mike Ooi (Captain Poopdeck)

    Mike is pleased to return to Lifeline after appearing in Duck For President. Other Kidseries productions include Naked Mole Rat Gets DressedThe 13 ClocksThe Last of the Dragons, and the upcoming The Emperor’s Groovy New Clothes. Other Chicago credits include Neverwhere and The Mark of Zorro (Lifeline); Renfaire! A Fistful of DucatsBlack & Blue1985, and Mop Top Festival (Factory Theater); Sinbad: The Untold Tale and Ghosts of Treasure Island (Adventure Stage); Three Penny Opera (The Hypocrites at Steppenwolf Garage); Old Town (Strawdog); Curse of the Crying Heart and Cave with Man (House Theatre). Mike is the Operations Manager for the Factory Theater, where he is also a company member.

  • Veronica Garza (Understudy)

    Veronica is so excited to be working with Lifeline Theatre! As a new actor to the Chicago theatre scene, Veronica has most recently been seen in Godspell as Robin with the Brown Paper Box Co. and as Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life: The Radio Play at William Street Repertory. She has a BA in Theatre from Penn State and likes to play guitar in her spare time.

  • Kirk Osgood (Understudy)

    Kirk is making his Lifeline Theatre debut with The Mystery of the Pirate Ghost. Kirk was last seen in the sold out run of Showgirls: The Musical at Stage 773, and Jack and the Beanstalk at Provision Theatre. Other Chicago credits include Emerald City Theatre, Piccolo Theatre, Navy Pier Entertainment, Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding, and Gorilla Tango Theatre. Kirk is a graduate of the Second City Detroit.

  • Greg Wenz (Understudy)

    Greg is extremely thrilled to be returning to Lifeline Theatre after appearing in The Woman in White this past fall. Recent Chicago credits include: Marat/Sade with Right Brain Project, F*cking A (Urban Theater Company), Boy in Black (Chicago Fusion Theatre), My Filthy Hunt (Right Brain Project), Suburbia and Eiffel Tower Wedding Party: Radio Silence(The Nine). Since arriving in 2006, Greg has performed with several other Chicago companies including: Profiles, Prop, Theatre Seven, Victory Gardens, Halcyon, Circle, and Rooms among others. He is a member of SAG/AFTRA and holds a BFA in Acting from Ohio University.

  • Scott T. Barsotti (Adaptor)

    Scott is thrilled to bring The Mystery of the Pirate Ghost to the Lifeline stage, having previously worked with Lifeline as an actor in Watership Down (as Fiver) and The Count of Monte Cristo (as Albert, for a day). Scott is a company member with WildClaw Theatre, Chicago’s horror theatre, where he has had two of his plays produced (The Revenants and Kill Me) and acted in productions of Carmilla and Legion. Scott’s plays have been seen all around Chicago and nationwide, and he recently had his adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Body Snatcher produced in Brisbane, Australia. Scott is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists.

  • Paul S. Holmquist (Director)

    Paul joined the Lifeline ensemble in 2006 and has directed Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and Other “Just So” StoriesFlight of the Dodo, and Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed for Lifeline’s KidSeries. Lifeline MainStage productions include The Island of Dr. Moreau (winner of 5 Non-Equity Jeff Awards, including Best Production-Play), Busman’s HoneymoonNeverwhereThe Moonstone, and The Count of Monte Cristo. Paul holds a BFA in Acting from the Theatre School at DePaul University and a Graduate Laban Certificate in Movement Analysis from Columbia College Chicago, where he teaches and works.

  • Troy Martin (Co-Composer/Musical Director)

    Troy is very excited about his first collaboration with Lifeline Theatre. He is a musician, songwriter, and performer who has worked in and around Chicago for nearly 17 years. A founding member and composer for The Billy Goat Experiment Theatre Company, and a member of the Curious Theatre Branch, Troy has strummed, sung and/or acted with The Free Associates, Teatro Vista, The NeoFuturists and numerous others. He also sings, plays ukulele, guitar, trombone or whatever’s handy in local bands such as The Crooked Mouth, ElvisBride, and TunT.

  • Matt Test (Co-Composer/Musical Director)

    Matt is extremely happy to be working on his first show at Lifeline. He is a company member with the Curious Theatre Branch, where he has written, performed in, and/or composed for over 20 productions since 2006. He recently workshopped his first operetta, Rung, and helped devise Elise Mayfield Is Samuel Clemens, Samuel Clemens is Mark Twain, both with The Ruckus Theater. He plays banjo, accordion, piano, and occasionally drums and cello in the bands ElvisBride, The Crooked Mouth, TunT, and Ab Wolf. He is a graduate of UC San Diego and studied graduate creative writing at the Art Institute of Chicago.

  • Katie Messmore (Stage Manager)

    Katie is very excited to be stage managing The Mystery of the Pirate Ghost, her first show here at Lifeline. Katie graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in Technical Theater and an emphasis in Stage Management. She is excited to be working with Lifeline again to close their season with The Three Musketeers.

  • Michael James Brooks (Sound Designer)

    Michael is thrilled to return to Lifeline Theatre after designing sound for last season’s Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed. Regionally, his sound design credits have included original music for the World Premiere of Seven Passages, as well as The TempestElizabeth Rex, and Sense and Sensibility. He received a Kennedy Center Achievement Award for his original score of the US Premiere of Disciples, by Hungarian National Playwright Andras Visky. For over six years, Michael has also been writing and performing with Chicago-based rock band, Common Shiner.

  • Gary C. Echelmeyer (Lighting Designer)

    This is Gary’s first collaboration with Lifeline Theatre. Chicago credits include: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Fox Valley Repertory, Norris Cultural Arts, Provision Theater, Circle Theater, Factory Theater, The Gift Theatre Company, Genesis Theatrical Productions, Porchlight Music Theater, Polarity Ensemble Theater, Theatre Seven of Chicago. Opera credits include: Houston Grand Opera, Chicago Conservatory Opera Illinois, and Tulsa Opera. Regional credits include: Texas Repertory Theater, Theater Under The Stars, Clinton Area Showboat Theater. Dance credits include: Chicago Dance Crash. Touring credits include: Here To Stay: The Gershwin Experience. Educational credits include: Elgin Community College Music Theater, Saint Ignatius College Prep H.S., Saint Francis High School. Gary received his B.S. in Theatre Design & Production at Illinois State University.

  • Matt Engle (Fight Choreographer)

    Matt is excited to be back at Lifeline Theatre after working on Hunger and Wuthering Heights. Other Chicago violence design credits include: fml and The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter (Steppenwolf); 2000 Feet AwayInsignificanceand Breathing Corpses (Steep Theatre); Hot ‘N’ Throbbing(Pine Box Theatre); Marathon ’33 (Strawdog Theatre); The End (Black Sheep); and The Gray GirlLeague of AwesomeSiskel & Ebert Save Chicago, and Ren Faire! A Fistful of Ducats (Factory Theater). Matt is also a company member with Chicago’s Factory Theater.

  • Kimberly G. Morris (Costume & Puppet Designer)

    Kim is pleased to be working again with Lifeline Theatre. Based in Chicago, she freelance designs and builds costumes, wigs, makeup, props, puppets and special effects for numerous venues around the country including Fox Valley Repertory, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Babes with Blades, Shedd Aquarium, Stage Left Theatre, The Griffin Theater, Niles West High School, Maine East High School, and the American Shakespeare Center (VA). Upcoming projects include Julius Cesar with BWB, The Art of Murder with FVR, The Importance of Being Earnest with NWHS, and In The Heights with MEHS.

  • Joe Schermoly (Scenic & Properties Designer/Technical Director)

    Joe is a set designer, technical director and painter and a proud Griffin company member. His design work has been seen around Chicago at Lifeline Theatre (The Count of Monte Cristo), Griffin Theatre (Punk RockNo More Dead DogsPortConstant Wife), Strawdog Theatre (Duchess of MalfiMaster and MargaritaRichard III), Sideshow Theatre (IdomeneusThe Ugly One), Eclipse (Beyond the HorizonTrestle at Pope Lick Creek), and more. He has also designed and built shows in London for The Finborough, Bush and Gate theatres among others. Joe studied set design at Northwestern University and is the Technical Director at Lifeline Theatre. You can see his design work in Lifeline’s winter MainStage production of The City & The City.

  • Benjamin W. Dawson (Production Manager)

    Ben received his MFA in Technical Design & Production Management from Florida State University. He served as the Production Safety Coordinator with The Santa Fe Opera and as Art Director for several television series with networks like Discovery, PBS, MTV and VH1. In Chicago, Ben has served, among other things, as Production Manager for Zombies Attack Chicago; as Technical Director for Remarcable Theatre’s Lips Together, Teeth Apart; and as the Scene Shop Foreman at Goodman Theatre. He is also currently a Company Member and the Production Manager for Sideshow Theatre Company and the Technical Director for American Theater Company.

From Time Out Chicago Kids

January 14, 2013
By Jonathan Messinger


The first thing you need to know about the new Lifeline Theatre kids’ production, The Mystery of the Pirate Ghost, is that it’s legit scary. I’d rather not spoil the scare and describe the titular ghost, but it’s fair to say that after his first appearance, a quick scan of the audience revealed a lot of the younger audience members had crept over to the safety of parental laps. This is all for the good, as Pirate Ghost was the best kids’ show I’ve seen at the theater.

The story, adapted from the Geoffrey Hayes book of the same name by Chicago playwright Scott T. Barsotti, follows young Otto, an alligator staying with his Uncle Tooth in the quiet port of Boogle Bay. Otto finds Boogle Bay a little too slow for his tastes, and he asks his uncle to recount his days as an adventurer while he longs for his own. It turns out, however, that Boogle Bay has a scallywaggly past, full of pirates and a giant “Beast of Boogle Bay,” whom no living person has set eyes on. As the audience and Otto are let in on the Bay’s secret history, it turns out that history has come back, as a ghost has raided a candy store, an inn, and the home of Uncle Tooth’s old friend, Captian Poopdeck. Smelling a resurgence in adventure, Otto wields his wooden sword aside Tooth as they try to track down the ghost of the notorious pirate Blackeye Doodle.

Everything is really singing in this premiere. Barsotti’s script excels beyond that of most kids’ plays, crisply moving the story along while peppering in genuinely funny moments. Kimberly G. Morris’s costumes and the simple, ever-revolving set design of [Joe Schermoly] are both playful and immersive. And yes, that ghost is initially scary, so I’d hazard a guess that Lifeline has it right when it recommends the show for 5 and up. But where’s the fun in adventure if there isn’t a little something to be afraid of? Barsotti actually takes a moment halfway through the show to address the audience’s reaction, when Otto asks Uncle Tooth why he feels scared of meeting a ghost, Tooth explains that we are most often scared by things we don’t understand. It’s another example of how this show hits all the right notes.



From Chicago Theater Beat

Top rate production values put the BOO! in Boogle Bay
January 14, 2013
By Joy Campbell

Once upon a time, things were different in Boogle Bay: there were pirates, high crime, and good old-fashioned disappearances thanks to the mythic Beast of Boogle Bay. Now, Boogle Bay is more gentrified: gone are the pirates; instead we have candy stores and Puffin-run inns serving the best in carrot soup. Good for property values, not so exciting for ten-year-old Otto alligator, who finds things just a bit too boring. He spends his time imagining swordfights with pirates and dreaming of adventure and excitement. He gets his wish when a series of thefts points to the ghost of Blackeye Doodle, a notorious pirate that once lived in Boogle Bay. As the thefts continue, the clues mount, and the mystery thickens, Otto and friends set out to solve the mystery of the pirate ghost. Yar!

Lifeline Theatre’s adaptation brings us all of the excitement, suspense, and spookiness of a ghost hunt, complete with delightful characters and thrilling visuals. Kimberly Morris’s costumes and scene-stealing creatures are terrific, as are the actors’ characterizations. As Otto, Casey Cunningham strikes the right balance between excitement and naïve awe that makes her Otto completely endearing. As uncle Tooth, Josh Douglas is the parent figure with all the cool stories and an even cooler sea trunk full of memorabilia. He reminds us that everything takes practice, and that persistence pays off. Mike Ooi’s Captain Poopdeck is a lovable, somewhat buffoonish neighbor who has taught Otto everything he knows about sword fighting — when he himself is not battling the hiccups. Deanna Myers has a dual role as Auntie Hick, the prickly proprietress of the candy shop vandalized by the ghost, and as Widow Mole, the crusty, blind, piano-playing saloon owner of Dead Man’s Landing. Her diminutive size coupled with her abrasive style are a hoot. Conor McCahill likewise plays dual roles: Joe Puffin, the tightly-wound owner of the local inn, and Ducky Doodle, a juvenile delinquent in need of some tough love. All of the actors bring a sincerity and sense of fun to their characters that make it easy for us to adore them.

A big nod must also be given to the set, sound, and lighting. Joe Schermoly’s simple set is colorful and creative. A single piece of movable wall indicates all the locations in the show with the help of minor, very clever, changes. Especially effective is the rotation of this piece by other cast members to show progression into a location as an actor steps through the doorway. Gary C. Echelmeyer’s lighting is gorgeous, and instrumental in creating the variety of locales, from the sunny yard of Uncle Tooth’s house to the spooky nighttime boat ride to Dead Man’s Landing. The sound effects, designed by Michael James Brooks, complement the lighting seamlessly, establishing everything from watery environs to the damp, dripping cave Otto dares to explore. Troy Martin and Matt Test give us salty seafaring music that includes a catchy, dirge-like song that sets a macabre tone as the lyrics evolve with the story’s exposition.

A word about the ghost: I thought the ghost was awesome; however, adults should probably heed the 5-and-up age suggestion. The ghost’s white skull and glowing red eyes create a great visual that is deliciously spooky, but it IS spooky. I didn’t hear any distraught kids, even among the younger ones, and the ghost does eventually manifest a goofy giggle that makes it a little less scary, but if your child is easily frightened, I’d hold off. If you’re unsure, use this test: if your child can handle Scooby Doo, they’ll be fine.



From Chicago Reader

January 15, 2013
By Jack Helbig

Adapted by Chicago playwright Scott Barsotti from Geoffrey Hayes’s 1985 children’s book, The Mystery of the Pirate Ghost tells the story of a plucky young alligator and his Scooby-Doo-esque adventures as he tries to discover whether the ghost of a local pirate is responsible for a series of petty thefts. Every element of this hour-long production should appeal to five- to ten-year-olds, from the playful performances to Kimberly Morris’s colorful costumes and the lively songs by Troy Martin and Matt Test. Director Paul Holmquist has assembled a great ensemble of actors, all of whom seem genuinely to enjoy performing for kids. The predictable downside is that the show can wear thin after a while for the adults in the audience. But then that’s true of most children’s programming.