OAK BROOK – For First Folio Theatre co-founder and Executive Director David Rice, bringing Rafael Sabatini's 1922 novel "Captain Blood" to the stage has been a labor of love.
"I fell in love with this novel back in the 1960s when I was in junior high," Rice said. "My dad gave it to me, and it had been one of his favorite novels growing up. It's just an incredibly fun and adventurous story."
First Folio Theatre's world premiere stage adaptation of "Captain Blood" will run from Jan. 28 through Feb. 26 at Mayslake Hall at the Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W. 31st St., Oak Brook.
Set on a Caribbean island, "Captain Blood" tells the tale of enslaved Dr. Peter Blood. Those who attend the production will see plenty of sword fights and pirate battles as Blood escapes and takes up the life of a pirate.
In adapting the play for the stage, Rice said he has tried to remain truer to the novel than the 1935 black-and-white film.
"In the stage adaptation, I've tried to remain truer to the book both in the plot line and in the tone than the movie did," he said. "Although with any adaptation, I have taken a few liberties. One of the things that you have to decide as an adapter is what story you want to tell. You can't bring the entire novel to the stage."
But Rice said the novel is more than just an adventure story.
"The novel actually has some interesting commentary on government and tyranny," he said. "I've always enjoyed that part of it. It wasn't just an adventure novel. It was an adventure novel that made you think."
Not that he is trying to make a political statement with the stage adaptation of the novel.
"This is not meant to be a pointed commentary on any specific government, let alone any specific governmental leader," Rice said. "But it does [talk about] what does any government owe to its people and what does any leader owe to his or her people. Those themes are touched on. I think it's timely, but I think it's timely because those questions are always timely. Those are questions which we should always examine."
At the same time, Rice said the production still contains plenty of action and adventure.
"This is still a rollicking, romantic adventure," Rice said. "There's lots of action and lots of romance and lots of comedy."
He lauded the work of Nick Sandys, who plays Captain Blood and also choreographs the fight scenes in the production.
"Nick is one of the top fight choreographers in the nation," Rice said. "He choreographs fight scenes for the Metropolitan Opera and for the Lyric Opera and all over the country. But he's also a great actor."
Rice had high praise for the entire cast of "Captain Blood."
"They're bold and fun and they're all great stage combat fighters," he said. "It's a fun cast. It's a wide range of great people."
If you go
What: First Folio Theatre's "Captain Blood"
When: Jan. 28 through Feb. 26
Where: Mayslake Hall at the Mayslake Peabody Estate, 1717 W. 31st St., Oak Brook
Cost: $26 to $39