REVIEW: Ken Ludwig’s Treasure Island

Blake Robison, artistic director at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, has made a concerted effort to welcome more family’s to the Playhouse. Yes, they pack them in during the holiday season traditionally – but Robison’s vision seems to be broader.  And over the last few seasons, there’s been an increase in the number of kid-friendly productions like TREASURE ISLAND.

The classic tale is all here, with familiar characters, swashbuckling pirates, and raucous adventure.  The children near me were engaged, laughing at the humor, and seemed to be following the storyline.  Robison, who also directed this play, found the adventure where he could despite the script lacking energy and excitement.  With the benefit of some inventive, high-tech staging and the use of powerful music to underscore the action, the action moves along at a fair pace.

The acting is fine; some of it better than the rest.  Jeffrey Bender is charismatic as “Long John Silver,” filling the stage with presence.  Thomas Brazzle turns in an energetic performance as “Black Dog” and I always enjoy Barry Mulholland (“Dr. Livesey”) and his committed performances.  Drew Fracher’s fight choreography features sword-play and some nice moments.  The set design by Jeffrey Modereger works well and makes grand use of the limited stage in the Marx Theatre.

TREASURE ISLAND is a family-friendly production that fans of the story or people looking to take their kids (or grandkids) to a play are likely to enjoy it.

TREASURE ISLAND runs through May 19th at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Click here for tickets.