‘Treasure Island’ takes W&L on a swashbuckling adventure

W&L’s stage adaptation of the childhood classic was a success for the theater department


The Johnson Theater stage transformed into the Hispaniola for “Treasure Island.” Photo courtesy of the Washington and Lee Facebook page

Veronika Kolosova, Staff Writer

Sword fights, steampunk pirate costumes and a stage modeled like a life-sized boat captivated the audiences of Washington and Lee’s sold-out production of “Treasure Island.” 

People waited at the box office in hopes of claiming any open seat to one of the shows, performed from Dec. 1 to Dec. 3. Performances took place in the Johnson Theater in the Lenfest Center for the Arts. 

People hold the story of “Treasure Island,” originally a children’s book written by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1833, dear to their hearts. Audience members said that the students brought the action and characters to life.

“The cast is so fun. You can tell they’re enjoying it,” Kayla Monaghan, ’24, who saw the opening night show, said. “Everyone is giving their all and absolutely committing.” 

The audience embarked on an adventure with fourteen-year-old Jim Hawkins, played by Finn Connor, ’23. After getting ahold of a treasure map that belonged to a legendary ship captain, Hawkins finds himself on a journey where he encounters a crew of ruthless pirates and other dangers. 

The stage was built in the shape of the Hispaniola, the ship Hawkins and the pirates traveled on. It was built from scratch. One cast member, Mariah Scott, ‘25, said she enjoyed seeing the stage come together during rehearsals.

“I loved going into the Johnson each time and seeing a new element,” Scott said. “One day you’d go in there and a ship part isn’t there, next day you come, and it’s fully built.” 

“Treasure Island,” adapted for the stage by Mary Zimmermann, was one of the largest productions in the recent history of  Washington and Lee’s theater department. The cast had over 20 people in it. A team of 17 others put behind-the-scenes aspects of the show together, like the sets.

“Audience should see it for the design aspects,” said Scott, who played Mrs. Hawkins. “The costumes, the set, all the mechanics of it – I think it’s the best part of the show.”

“Treasure Island” kept the audience’s attention for over two hours with coordinated fight scenes, singing, and stylish costumes.

“The costuming is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen,” said Monaghan. “I’m absolutely in love with all the makeup.”

Claire Mersol, ‘23, who played Captain Smollet, said that the biggest takeaway from this production was that “courage and loyalty are rewarding.”

Daniel Reiter, ‘26, felt this deep theme of loyalty as an audience member. 

“The deeper meaning of loyalty comes through from the battles and deaths within the play,” he said.

Nafeesa Monroe, director of the show and visiting associate professor of theater, said she enjoyed seeing multiple elements of the show come together. 

“There is a sense of nostalgia when it comes to ‘Treasure Island’ and excitement for pirates,” Monroe said. “But the heart of the story is that the greed for wealth can really skew our humanity.”