The legend of Pocahontas has lived on in books and movies, and now it comes to life on stage with a thrilling combination of storytelling, choreography and plot-moving musical numbers that will not disappoint.
Christian Youth Theater’s original musical production of “The Legend of Pocahontas” takes to the stage at the Mater Dei Catholic High School Theater Nov. 2-4 and Nov. 9-10. All seats are reserved and ticket prices are $12 ($15 at the door). For tickets visit the website at www.cytsandiego.org.
The story takes place in the early part of the 17th century as the British begin to colonize Virginia, then a stronghold of Native American Indians, and follows Pocahontas as she grows from being a curious brave child to a beautiful and intelligent woman of the time.
More than 80 local youth make up this talented cast of actors, singers, dancers and tech crew who weave the historical storyline into spectacular sights, memorable tunes and dynamite choreography.
The accomplished artistic team of directors — director Denise Plunk, music director Tony Atienza and choreographer Francine Maigue — takes the original musical score written by Jon Lorenz to produce a powerful and brilliantly entertaining musical that also teaches lessons of love both for environment and one another.
“The story of Pocahontas tells about a lack of understanding and acceptance from each side,” Plunk said. “And still today, we continue to see intolerance and inequality in our world. ‘The Legend of Pocahontas’ reminds us that we are all more alike than different.”
The lead cast features 17-year-old Priscila Mellado from Calvary Christian Academy as Pocahontas, 17-year-old Jesse Kendrick from Grossmont Middle College High School as Captain John Smith, 14-year-old David Batchman of Chula Vista High School as John Rolfe, and 18-year-old Estevan Ramirez of Southwestern College as Chief Powhatan.
Other cast members include Eddie Atienza, 13, Magnolia Science Academy; Danny La Pointe, 16, Calvary Christian Academy; Jazmine Ruiz, 18, San Diego Christian College; Ivanna Quiceno, 15, Mater Dei High School; Cari Callen, 15, River Valley Charter; Mia Apalategui, 14, Chula Vista High School; Amy Wawryznki, 15, San Diego SCPA; and Thalia Rose Maigue-Bendorf, 15, Bonita Vista Middle School.
Natalia Robinson, 11, of Chula Vista Hills Elementary School will play young Pocahontas while Rachel Herrera, 12, of Eastlake Middle School will play middle Pocahontas.
Tanner Gill, 15, will serve as stage manager.
Show times are Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Mater Dei Catholic High School is located at 1615 Mater Dei Drive, Chula Vista.
Pocahontas in history: Did you know?
The history of the Americas is one of stark contrast. The native North American peoples, in particular, were fully integrated into a life of hunting and gathering; they were literally and figuratively children of nature. European explorers of the 15th and 16th centuries, however, saw the New World in a different light. It was virgin territory to exploit for commercial purposes.
When the English got around to claiming their share of the wealth with the founding of Jamestown in 1607, they rediscovered what Viking explorers had learned more than 600 years earlier: the land was indeed fertile but it was already populated.
Conflict was inevitable. While the Vikings abandoned their plans for colonization, the English chose to stay.
The two cultures quickly came at odds to one another. English settlers fenced off land and drained swamps, forever changing the natural habitat in which the Native American peoples were in equilibrium.
Pocahontas was born in 1595 as a daughter of Powhatan, the chief of a powerful confederation of about 30 tribes and 10,000 people in the Tidewater region of Virginia; she was 12 when she entered her name into the history books by supposedly saving the life of an English captive, John Smith.
In a well-known historical anecdote, Pocahontas is said to have saved the life of Smith by placing her own head upon his as her father was poised to execute him with a club.
Pocahontas, who had already married one of her father’s bravest warriors, was captured by the English during the First Anglo-Powhatan War in 1613 and held for ransom. It was during her captivity that she converted to Christianity and was given the name Rebecca. She elected to remain with the English colonists and married tobacco planter John Rolfe in 1614, bearing him a son, Thomas Rolfe, a year later.
With an alliance suitably in place due to the cross-cultural marriage, Chief Powhatan sued for peace.
The Rolfe family journeyed to England in 1616 where Pocahontas was presented to English society as a civilized “savage.” Her celebrity status was hoped to stimulate further interest — and investment — in Jamestown. However, upon setting sail for Virginia in 1617, Pocahontas fell ill and died of unknown causes. She was buried in Gravesend, England.
Her descendants through her son Thomas include many members of the First Families of Virginia, with both English and Virginia Indian roots. They include First Ladies Edith Wilson and Nancy Reagan and astronomer Percival Lowell.
The fate of Virginia’s native peoples, however, was sealed in two subsequent wars with the colonists in 1622 and 1644. Through reprisals on part of the English, the Powhatan Confederacy was destroyed. English expansion beyond Jamestown was assured.
— Phillip Brents