Torn between comedy and tragedy

In "Princess and the Pirates," the cast members alternate between playing their roles with humor and wit and with sadness and drama.

"Dane had this idea to have two main characters - comedy and tragedy - who are both trying to make the story what they are," said writer and co-creator Tyler Avery of director and co-creator Dane Nielsen.

Using Nielsen's idea as a backdrop, Avery created what he calls a "typical play," consisting of a princess who escapes royal life and becomes involved with a gang of pirates. As the play proceeds, two characters, Comedy and Tragedy, battle to make the story funny or tragic.

Avery and Nielsen, who are homeschooled and attend Olympic Peninsula Academy, say they brainstormed and wrote the play on their own time but intended it to be performed by the OPA students.

"We wrote it so it'd be interesting to (all) people in the community, not just kids and not just parents," explained Nielsen, who also plays one of the princess' servants in the play.

Avery, who said it took him approximately three months to perfect the script, said the group has been in rehearsal since March.

The uniqueness of an OPA play is the age range of the cast - nearly all OPA students participate and this year drama teacher Bonne Smith said

there are children from 6 to 17 on stage.

"We have kids that have been in our plays since the age of 2," Smith laughed. "They just love it."

Cast member Paula Roberts, 9, who plays a pirate, said she had a specific inspiration for her character - Captain Jack Sparrow from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies.

"I can't do the voice as well as him," she admitted, pointing to lead pirate Jesse Kirsch. "I'm working on it."

Nielsen, who has performed in other OPA plays but is a novice director, said he and Avery have plans to write more plays.

"We definitely want to write another play," he said. "I don't know if I could direct another one, too. We've had a lot of fun, though."

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