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Ishmael sings tale of great white whale

In Moby Dick! The Musical, when girls just wanna raise funds, they twist the script of the classic mariners story.

By BARBARA L. FREDRICKSEN
Published April 13, 2007


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If you go see Moby Dick! The Musical expecting a sober literary experience similar to, say, Les Miserables, it's not gonna happen.

"Obviously, the original Moby Dick is very serious, but this is a flat-out comedy," said David O'Hara, who is directing theater students from J.W. Mitchell High School in the show today through Sunday at the Center for the Arts at River Ridge.

Moby Dick! The Musical tells the story of the obsessed Captain Ahab's struggle with the Great White Whale, but it's all done with one eyebrow cocked and ready for a really comical and crazy moment.

Indeed, Moby Dick! The Musical is more in the vein of Nunsense and The Rocky Horror Show with a dash of Jekyll & Hyde, the Musical tossed in.

It takes place at the rather rundown St. Godley's Academy for Young Ladies, which is poised to declare bankruptcy.

The students are horrified. If the school closes, they'll have to give up their wild parties and pranks and go back to their humdrum lives at home.

Fortunately, one of the girls has written a musical based on Herman Melville's somber, tragic and highly symbolic tale of Moby Dick. But her musical version is filled with upbeat pop and rock musical numbers, with its fair share of suicides, murders, psychoses and intrigue - all the things that any good and gory story must have.

Headmistress (Christopher Valentine - yes, a guy dressed as a woman) immediately seizes upon the musical as a "big fat fundraiser." She doles out the parts, giving herself the plum role of Captain Ahab.

The cast of 32 includes all the familiar characters.

Tiffany Conley plays Ishmael, the only survivor of the whaling ship Pequod and eventual teller of the tale. Drew Culler plays Pip, Ahab's cabin boy; Kellen Whiting plays Starbuck, the Quaker who recruits sailors.

Lesley Dennis plays Queequeg, a traveling harpooner who also happens to be a cannibal. Corey Cane plays Father Mapple, who gives Queequeg the blessing he needs in order to make friends with Ishmael.

The stage crew of 10 deals with some really creative special effects, like a big white whale that swallows people and harpooners who "attack" the audience.

The double and triple entendres and raunchy language in the initial American version have been edited, but not eviscerated.

"It's a little naughty, but not dirty," O'Hara said.

Fast Facts:

If you go

What: Moby Dick! The Musical.Who: J.W. Mitchell High School Drama.Where: Center for the Arts at River Ridge, 11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey.When: 7:30 p.m. today; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday.Tickets: $10, at the box office on the day of the show.

[Last modified April 12, 2007, 23:10:13]


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