BHS presents 'Treasure Island' | Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose Schools
April 11, 2024

BHS presents 'Treasure Island'

Spring play arrives April 18-20

Action, adventure and intrigue drive the classic “Treasure Island” story, told with a few fresh adaptations by the Buffalo High School drama department in its upcoming spring play.

Three performances are scheduled, each at 7:30 p.m. in the BHS Performing Arts Center, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, April 18-20.

The genre-defining book by Robert Louis Stevenson was published in 1883 and tells the story of Jim, the son of an English innkeeper whose customers include a mysterious former sailor. After the inn is attacked by others seeking the sailor’s possessions, Jim escapes with a treasure map and enlists the help of friends to find the treasure. A mutiny, battles with pirates and a treasure hunt ensue.

“There are sword fights and a lot of swashbuckling pirates, so it could get scary for young children, but I think upper elementary age kids and older people will enjoy it,” said director Debb Bestland. “It’s an amazing story.”

The idea to put on Bryony Lavery’s 2014 adaptation of the play came when Bestland viewed that version by the Royal National Theatre during the COVID time period.

“I just fell in love with the storytelling element of it,” she said, explaining that Lavery’s version includes more female roles – including the casting of Jim as a girl whose full name is Jimima – and a more contemplative overall approach.

“In the original book it’s all about getting the treasure, whereas this one asks, ‘What is your real treasure?’” Bestland said. “There are other things in our lives that are treasures: our families, our homes and those sorts of things. It leaves you with that taste in your mouth at the end, which is nice.”

Student perspectives
The cast of 21 and crew of 16 have their hands full with a larger production than is typical for a spring show. A lengthy break close to performance dates, and student schedules filled with other events and activities, typically mean fewer students are involved with the spring play, but this ensemble has embraced the challenge of the production’s scope in more ways than one.

“I really like our set for this show. It’s just bigger than usual,” said senior Madelyn Benzer, who plays pirate crew member Joan the Goat. “Something we’re working on is using the whole space of the stage because it’s so big and there’s so much to interact with. I think it’s a really cool part of the show.”

Helping to manage preparations are Technical Director Greg Bestland, BCMS teacher Kim Atkins, and student assistant director Isaac Ryder. Bestland called Ryder “the glue holding everything together.”

“Directing has always been a passion of mine. I kind of like telling people what to do,” said Ryder with a laugh. “I have past experience directing at the middle school, so when this opportunity came up I was really excited because it’s something I want to pursue.”

Ryder helps with blocking, directs actors through their scenes while Bestland works with other students, stays “on book” during rehearsal to say the lines of students who are absent, and more. He has enjoyed the process at the high school level, which he said feels more “professional” than his prior experiences.

“I really like how engaging this show is,” he said. “Jim, one of the characters, talks to the audience. The fight scenes are really in your face, and it’s cool to see them play out. We had a choreographer come in to help with that, and we have to practice hard because if there’s a mistake somebody could actually get hurt. So it can be a little dangerous, but it’s also both funny and serious at times. It’s just a well-rounded show in all parts.”

Benzer agreed.

“It has a lot of comic relief and there are some pretty funny parts, especially with the characterization that people are doing with their parts,” she said. “It never gets too dark.”

Senior Kadin Anderson plays Long John Silver, who he described as a “conniving, villainous scoundrel” and the ringleader of the pirate pack. The long-time theater veteran is enjoying his final high school show, saying it is a straightforward plot portrayal without the extra elements of a musical or the pressure of a one act competition. That does not mean music is absent, however.

“We’ll sing sea shanties during scene transitions rather than doing blackouts, which is something I haven’t seen before and I think is really cool,” he said.

“It is really unique,” said Benzer. “The cast and crew both work on changing the scenery during set changes, and the singing kind of adds to the pirate feel.”

Tickets are $6 for adults and $4 for students and senior citizens. They are available online: Thursday, April 18 (, Friday, April 19 ( and Saturday, April 20 (

“We’ve had a lot of fun putting it together. I hope people come and enjoy the show,” said Benzer. 

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