Comical pirate show brings improv, music, audience participation to QC Performing Arts Center

The five actors in “The Greatest Pirate Story Never Told” were selected for their abilities to sing, dance, improvise and perform stage combat, according to show creator Christopher Leidenfrost, above center. This enables cast members to incorporate audience suggestions into the storyline of the musical comedy at a rapid and energetic pace, he said. The family-friendly show, which he calls “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?” meets “Pirates of the Caribbean,” will be performed Feb. 4 at the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center. To purchase tickets or view a video preview of the show, visit (Special to the Independent/Queen Creek Performing Arts Center)

A pirate adventure coming to Queen Creek Performing Arts Center plans to take audience members on the “high C’s” of comedy.

“The Greatest Pirate Story Never Told” uses audience suggestions to produce a funny and fast-paced, interactive theater-going experience, according to its creator and cast member, Christopher Leidenfrost.

“It’s a musical comedy at its heart, but it’s also a pirate adventure,” Mr. Leidenfrost said during a phone interview. “So much of the show is interactive. We speak directly to the audience. We’re often there in the audience with them.”

“The Greatest Pirate Story Never Told” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, at the QCPAC, 22149 E. Ocotillo Road in Queen Creek. Tickets are $15 for adults and $13 for children.

It tells the comical story of a band of five misfit pirates who are flung into the future by a bumbling sea witch with only half a script with which to tell their tale. They depend on audience members to help fill in the blanks of their story and improvise a new musical production based on the audience’s suggestions during each production, according to the QCPAC website:

The show — which Mr. Leidenfrost characterizes as “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?” meets “Pirates of the Caribbean” — generally lasts about 70 minutes, but it could go longer based on audience input, he said.

“We sometimes have people screaming suggestions, they give so much,” Mr. Leidenfrost said. “We’ve gotten very good at hearing them and incorporating their suggestions. We’re a very nurturing bunch of pirates.

“The show is half-scripted, half-improved. The audience gets to help write the show; that’s why it’s never been told before. It’s always the same show but never the same show twice,” he said.

QCPAC Director Molly Jacobs called the production “very clever, very smart.”

“I go to Western Arts Alliance (where she can view potential shows for QCPAC) and I see all these up-and-coming acts, and I have not laughed that hard in a long time,” Ms. Jacobs said during a phone interview. “I’m a huge fan of how creative the cast can be off the top of their head. They are very witty, and it’s a totally family-friendly production which in our growing community is totally important. It’s just clever with so much audience participation; the audience is a major part of what goes on.

“I enjoyed them and laughed out loud. I thought most people would, too,” Ms. Jacobs said.

She said when attending events such as the Western Arts Alliance she looks for different and unique experiences to bring to Queen Creek.

“We brought in Mark Nizer (Jan. 18) and he came up with all the technology that went over so well, especially with the kids,” she said. “The ‘Elvis: The Early Years’ show (Jan. 20) was fantastic. He was a tribute guy who did the young Elvis. It was so fun to see all the older women who ran up to him for kisses.”

Mr. Leidenfrost said he created “Pirate Story” in 2012 as part of a festival production for historic Hudson Valley in New York. It began as a 30-minute show that developed into the longer version, he said.

He incorporated the stage combat and improvisation skills he honed while working at the New York Renaissance Fair and added music.

The Queen Creek production is one of several national touring casts with rotating members who perform the show, Mr. Leidenfrost said. He said one of the coolest things about the show is the skill set its cast members must possess.

“The audition for cast members is one of the most terrifying they’ll attend,” he said. “They need to sing, dance, know stage combat, play an instrument and improvise very well. They’re a quintuple threat, stage-wise.”

Another cool factor is the show’s variety of stage actions.

“We always have musical numbers and a stage combat sequence. You’ll get all the wonderful aspects of improv with a masterfully staged musical comedy,” Mr. Leidenfrost said.

The cast and crew will be in Queen Creek — its only Arizona stop on its way from Walla Walla, Washington, to Florida — only about 24 hours, Mr. Leidenfrost said. They will arrive on Friday and set up on Saturday. They will leave Saturday night after the show, he said.

It takes the crew about an hour to unload the set and another hour to set it up. The lightweight set has been designed with a quick set-up and tear-down in mind, the show’s creator said.

“We have three versions of our set. We’re bringing the most complete of them. It’s very versatile,” Mr. Leidenfrost said.

Ms. Jacobs said she is looking forward to the local audience’s reaction to the show.
“The crew can sing and they are funny. It’s a good fun evening. We can all use that,” she said.

To purchase tickets or to view a video preview of the show, visit Tickets may also be purchased by calling the box office at 480-987-7469.

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