A mysterious message left in the crow’s nest of Captain Braid Beard's ship hints at treasure, and pirates love treasure, especially this crew.

But to find the treasure, the pirates must travel to the North Pole and there's only one person who can help them get there — Jeremy Jacob.

Fans of Melinda Long's "How I Became A Pirate" children's book series will be familiar with all the characters when Playmakers of Baton Rouge opens the musical "Jingle Arrgh the Way!" on Friday in LSU's Reilly Theatre. But those who haven't read the books don't have to worry.

"This is going to be an interactive musical," says director Joshua Stenvick. "Not only will the action be happening on the stage, but we're going to involve the audience."

This pirate adventure began in Long's first book, also called "How I Became a Pirate," when at the beach a young boy, Jeremy Jacob, spots a pirate ship.

"Pirates have green teeth — when they have any teeth at all," Jeremy says. "I know about pirates, because one day, when I was at the beach building a sandcastle and minding my own business, a pirate ship sailed into view."

Jeremy joins Captain Braid Beard's band of pirates, then teaches them etiquette, manners and how to play soccer. Playmakers performed the musical adaptation based on the book in 2011.

"We loved that show so much, and we wanted to bring the pirates back," says artistic director Todd Henry.

"But this time, it's different," says 12-year-old Beau Willis, who plays Jeremy. "It isn't soccer season, so he teaches them how to play basketball."

Willis is a Playmakers veteran, but "Jingle Arrgh the Way!" marks the first leading role for the Our Lady of Mercy Catholic School seventh-grader.

"Jeremy Jacob helps them solve a mystery," Willis says. "They think they are seeking treasure, but what he helps them find in the North Pole is a real treasure."

The pirates also run into Santa Claus and his crew. And the audience will learn that Braid Beard, played by Harrison Magner, and Santa, played by Wil Thomas, have a lot in common.

"This is my second year to play Santa at Playmakers," Thomas says. "I played more of a jazzy Santa last year in 'The Happy Elf.' This year, I'm more of a traditional Santa."

St. Nick welcomes Braid Beard, who, Magner says, thinks he knows everything, along with the captain's eclectic crew, like Max, played by Hannah Blanchard, who thinks he has a live parrot on his shoulder.

"None of the other pirates have the heart to tell him the parrot isn't real," Blanchard says. His fellow pirate, Seymour, played by Brendon Landry, takes it a step further by pretending to be the parrot's voice.

"Seymour is always standing close to Max so Max will think that his parrot is talking," Landry says. "Seymour is also gung-ho. He's excited to be there and he's ready to do whatever it is they're going to do."

Sharktooth, played by show choreographer Tony Collins, lives by the stern pirate's code, or seems to, anyway.

"What they don't realize is that he has a huge soft spot," Collins says. "And he also loves theater. He aspires to be a Broadway star one day."

Sharktooth eventually will face off on the ship's deck with Pierre, the pirates' French cook, portrayed by Jacob McManus. Pierre also will present Santa with the perfect Christmas cookies made from the perfect recipe.

Finally, there's Swill, played by Libby Judice-Smith.

"Swill thinks she knows everything," Judice-Smith says. "She has a lot of knowledge, but she doesn't have a lot of common sense. And she gives long monologues about things she knows about. I've learned a lot of things I didn't know from her speeches."

The cast refuses to give away spoilers, but Willis does offer one clue as to the treasure hinted at by the mysterious message.

"It's a treasure that's more valuable than they can imagine," he says.


'Jingle Arrgh the Way!'

Playmakers of Baton Rouge's holiday production

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturdays, Dec. 9 and 16; and 2 p.m. Sundays, Dec. 10 and 17

WHERE: LSU's Reilly Theatre, Tower Drive, Baton Rouge 

TICKETS/INFO: $21; $15.75 children. (225) 578-6996 or playmakersbr.org

Follow Robin Miller on Twitter, @rmillerbr.