Lyrics and Music by Kellie Johnson and Michael Menger
Book by Michael Menger




Great Performances awards three $4000 scholarships.

Sunday, March 15, 2009– New York City - On Sunday, March 15th, 2009, dozens of artists gathered eagerly in Mae Mae Café to hear the announcement of the 2008 Scholarship winners. These artists work tirelessly for Great Performances as waiters, bartenders, party captains, buffet attendants and kitchen assistants all the while pursuing their artistic careers as playwrights, directors, actors, dancers, painters, singers and photographers. This year saw more applicants than ever before, and the Café buzzed with excited energy as friends and colleagues sipped wine, discussed their projects and celebrated the evening’s winners.

This year’s judges were Katie Lee Joel, celebrity food critic and chef; Tina Ramirez, Artistic Director of Ballet Hispanico; and Claudia Bonn, President and Executive Director of Wave Hill. Ms. Ramirez applauded all who submitted proposals before announcing the three winners. The evening’s program also included a performance by 2006 Scholarship Award winner Garry Novikoff who sang the title song from his recently-produced CD “Dog on the Moon”.

2008 Winners:
Tim Marback – Producing his play, Mend, under the direction of Olympia Dukakis
Michael Menger – Producing his own work, The Really Big Pirate Show!
Charles Wulster – Completing production on his film, The Defenders of Belfast

Scholarship Program
Great Performances' Biennial Scholarship Awards Program recognizes the talents and pursuits of its hourly employees, many of whom are working artists. With three grants of $4,000 each, recipients are able to fund projects that aim to advance their artistic careers. The Scholarship Awards Program enables us to give back to our "Great Performers" and keeps us anchored to our company roots as a support system for fellow artists.




Early buzz garnering attention of industry

May 1, 2007 – New York City - X will mark the spot when the new musical, The Really BIG Pirate Show! comes to Broadway. In preparation for that big step, the creative team of Michael Menger, (Book and Lyrics) and Kellie Johnson, (Music and Lyrics) have launched a website and have just finished post-production of the pre-Broadway demo CD featuring highlights from the show. 

The CD features the talents of Al Bundonis currently starring in the new off-Broadway musical Sessions.  Al also starred in the Ragtime national tour, the Lincoln Center’s The Last Empress and is also featured on the demo recording of Kander and Ebb’s newest project, The Visit; Christian Lange, who last appeared in Manhattan Theater Club’s staged musical reading of The Orphan Train;  Kellie Johnson who has won two Drama Critic Awards for her performances in Forbidden Broadway and Blood Brothers and Patrick Riviere, last seen on stage in the Broadway on the Boardwalk production of Anything Goes at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City.

The Really BIG Pirate Show! is the story of Samuel, an orphan who dreams of adventure and seizes the day by signing on to a ship as cabin boy, and only later realizes that he has joined a band of pirates.  Even worse, he discovers that he has been cursed with a magical Heart of Gold buried deep in his chest, and it just happens to be the legendary treasure that everyone is looking for!  In his quest to find true freedom, Samuel's adventures bring him face to face with ravaging pirates, gruesome ghosts, a bloodthirsty uncle, a Looney queen, and a villainous Sea Hag!  Complete with huge sword fights, wild romance, daring duels, a giant squid attack, amazons and mermaids, this is the show for anyone who has ever wanted to be a pirate.  All this and a six-foot parrot named Hamlet who can talk and talk and talk!


The Really BIG Pirate Show! in the Winningstad Theatre
at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts

Spoofy ‘The Pirate Show!’ has its share of yo-ho-hos

The Really Big Dance Company always can be counted on for chuckles and chortles, mostly from an absurdist orientation, and its original “The Pirate Show!” is no exception. Whipped together over five months under the creative direction of Michael Menger, it’s a melange of song and dance dedicated to spoofing pirates and pirate movies as well as the whole entertainment enterprise.

Fortunately, Menger has himself playing a starring role. Loose jointed, naturally a bit removed from the action (to considerable comic effect) and used to carrying a load on stage - both with the Really Big Dance Company and as an actor in town - Menger has an easy welcoming presence on stage that invites the audience to go along with the joke.

In this case the joke has to do with the two or three ridiculous intertwining plots that converge in the lair of the Sea Hag. She happens to possess the Heart of Gold that Menger and his crew are trying to seize at the same time a cross-dressing pirate is fighting for independence of her island against a foe that includes her ex-lover.

To supply the narrative, even though she is dressed in a parrot suit, is Kellie Johnson. She has a strong, pleasing voice, just great for belting out Broadway tunes. And Michael Collins has winning moments as Samuel, whose coming of age is a central part of the show.

The rest of the cast throw themselves into the physical aspects of the show - the comic sword fighting, the general high jinks and the dance bits. The most comic of these is performed by a group of women cannibals all named Peg who have, you guessed it, one good leg each. The Xena-like Amazon warrior bit, another funny segment, suggests another spoof possibility.

The words also serve to extend the show past the tight, bright 90-minute barrier (and “The Pirate Show!” is mostly good clean fun). It has a casual, unpredictable and mesmerizing quality that managed to keep the children in the audience
involved. ---Barry Johnson, The Oregonian