, Port Arthur, Texas

November 8, 2012

Lead has challenge in PALT play, ‘Treasure Island’

Brooke Crum
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — It may not be easy to get into the mindset of an 18th century, 14-year-old boy, but it has been that much more difficult for Rebecca Phillips because, well, she’s not a boy.

Phillips plays Jim Hawkins in the Port Arthur Little Theatre’s production of “Treasure Island,” which opens next weekend. PALT’s production follows Ken Ludwig’s close adaptation of the classic novel by Robert Louis Stevenson and will run for two weeks.

Phillips, a student at Lamar State College-Orange, said she wanted to play a part in “Treasure Island” because she was eager to get back into theater.

“I did it on a whim,” she said.

The 19-year-old has not acted in a play in two years, and this one was a favorite of hers. Phillips said she liked her character’s passion, his drive, his fire about the possibility of finding himself.

“He loves the taste of adventure,” she said, an affinity to which she can relate.

Although she enjoys Jim Hawkins’ adventurous attitude, Phillips said her character challenged her at every turn, all the way from his physicality to his thought process.

“I’m used to playing prim and proper women,” she said.

But the active side of her adolescent character attracted Phillips to the role because she could have fun with it and move around and not be glued to the same spot on the stage. And the fact that Phillips considers herself to be “the girliest person” she has ever met makes her role seem all that much more challenging and interesting because she has to think about how boys act and think and move, which has always been a bit of a mystery to her, she said.

“I think there’s a part of a pirate in everybody,” said Debbie Pletcher, director of “Treasure Island” and president of the theater’s board of directors.

Pletcher volunteered to direct the play because she loves the classics, she said. She has directed several plays in the past, but this one is different because it is a literary classic, she said.

“You have to be careful with the literary classics,” Pletcher said.

People have preconceived notions of how the story should unfold, Pletcher said, so she wanted to stay true to Stevenson’s novel in order to please the audience. But the classic tale of the 14-year-old Jim Hawkins befriending a group of swashbuckling pirates in order to locate a lost, buried treasure was not a plot that Pletcher thought she would have to alter in order to entertain an audience.

“You have to give people what they want,” she said.

For Pletcher, directing is an opportunity to take the actors and see them evolve into their characters, she said. And “Treasure Island” presented a challenge because she had to get Phillips to become a boy essentially.

“It’s the fantasy, the make believe, making it come to life,” she said.

PALT’s production of “Treasure Island” opens Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. and continues through Nov. 18 and Nov. 23-25. Friday and Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees start at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $11 for adults, $9 for seniors and $6 for students or PALT members. Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling the reservation line at 727-PALT.