In a twist on the early Shakespearean tradition of men playing women's roles, the female acting students at Payson High School are learning the lines for the male roles in this weekend's production of "Treasure Island."
"Treasure Island" is the story of a little boy, Jim Hawkins, played by Jen Sandoval, who finds a map in an old sailor's chest, then casts off on an adventure aboard Captain Smollett's ship to find treasure.
There is only one male student, Tomlyn Morgan, in Kathy Siler's advanced acting class. So, the females had to stretch their acting abilities to fill out the cast.
"They are enthusiastically playing male roles," Siler said.
Sabrina Bahm, a junior, has been paying close attention to the guys around campus in order to learn her role. She has watched how they walk and interact with each other.
"They seem kind of goofy and primitive sometimes," she said.
Bahm plays the "bad" pirate, Anderson.
"As Anderson, I'm a very daring man," she said. "Kind of a ‘player' of the 18th century -- good with a sword and sneaky."
Anderson gets shot in the back by Gray, a pistol-wielding good pirate.
"A bloody scoundrel she is," Logan Knudsen, the junior who plays Gray, calls out as Anderson swaggers aboard the stage ship.
While the characters banter, technician Jonathon Craig secures the hinges on the ship's cabin door.
"Pirates are boisterous characters," Bahm said later, as costumer Marleann Nielsen hands her a maroon vest.
Nielsen's responsibility is to make sure each character gets the right costume and that the director approves of her choices.
"This is still a haphazard costume," said Shea Larby (Long John Silver), as she headed to the stage dressed in a tan poet's shirt and a long black coat, carrying a wooden crutch.
Nielsen said, her behind-the-scenes role as costumer can present a challenge. The spring musical has a rack full of costumes in the prop room. Constant use of the stage means there is not much time to clean house. So, the upstairs is a bit of a mess when something must be found in a hurry.
In addition to the main cast, there are at least a dozen more of the grog-swilling, ribald pirates for Nielsen to dress.
Then, there are the seven able sailors she must see properly clothed.
Joyce, played by sophomore Christina Breen, is one such sailor.
"Joyce is a gentleman and is loyal to Captain Smollett," Breen said. "I aim for a lot of pirates and shoot them with my pistol."
"Treasure Island" will be staged at the Payson High School auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 1 and Saturday, March 3. A matinee will be held at 4 p.m. Friday, March 2.
Admission is $4 adults; $3 students and seniors; $2 Longhorn Pride card holders.