Pirates Wanted

Produced by Last Call Theatre

The Look Club
7 min readApr 9, 2024

Experienced aboard the American Pride, docked at the West Harbor Long Dock in San Pedro ~ 2024

The Captain fends off a mutiny in one version of this varying show. (Photo Credit: Charly Charney Cohen)

The Experience & How it Works:

Audiences arrive at the port wearing their pirate best and learn that Captain Souvanna’s vessel has shipwrecked and that they—the new pirate recruits—will need to steal a new ship… from the British Royal
Navy. Once the pirates succeed at commandeering the ship, the audience is trained to become actual seaworthy pirates. During the evening, the audience can either play pirate games and/or discover stories amongst their shipmates.

Why it’s Interesting, IMHO:

It’s on an actual ship! And everyone’s dressed like pirates! 🏴‍☠️

Also, Pirates Wanted follows Last Call’s trademark style of quests and audience-driven narrative, with over 50 quests that result in multiple potential endings and variable sword and fight combat scenes. There’s also live, original music by composer/lyricist Ronen Rinzler.

Ronen Rinzler (in red) plays Jackie Grim and composed the show’s original music. (Photo Credit: C.C. Cohen)

Initial Impression & Critical Discussion:

The show starts off strong: a bunch of pirate-y looking folks are gathered at the appointed gate—including one with a parrot on his shoulder—very quickly bringing you into the pirate world. The story unfolds on the dock and the audience is presented with their first choice: to storm the ship or sneak aboard. It’s a proper vote, letting the audience feel their agency from the get go, and the Captain backs whatever the majority called for.

Our night, we opted to sneak aboard and the guided and choreographed sneaking felt awesome. We were told exactly how to sneak, we were helped aboard, and we hid, along with our crew. The audience didn’t do much to overtake the ship, though our presence undoubtedly helped, as there is strength in numbers and we outnumbered those rightfully on board.

Interestingly, the taking over the ship isn’t what kicked off the story. It was the arrival of the head of the Pirates Council, who also happened to be the older brother of our Captain. It felt a bit like a double beat, and may not have been the only one. That being said, Shelby Ryan Lee, who played Captain Draken, was incredibly charismatic and a welcome presence. Additionally, while taking over the ship gave us “land lovers” enough motivation to need to learn pirate skills, the arrival of Captain Draken—and his subsequent announcement that we were under evaluation to become part of the Pirate Council—gave us the stakes, a reason to accomplish our goal.

After this bit of clever exposition, each of Captain Souvanna’s original crewmates introduced themselves, sharing their pronouns and their special skills. Pirate trainees were then told to go to the crew member that offered training in the skills they were interested in.

Early in the show, either at this point or perhaps earlier at the gates, an announcement was made informing the audience-trainees that, if they found a crew member of their liking, they were encouraged to stick with them for the evening. Also early in the show—at the gates, before boarding the ship—every pirate-in-training was given a card that listed all the necessary skills for being a pirate and had check boxes next to each one of them. While not explicitly said, it was implied that we might want to learn all the skills. These two occurrences did seem to provide the pirate-trainees with conflicting instructions; were we supposed to find one crew member to stick with for the night or aim to get all the pirate skills on our card checked off?

Pirate trainees’ Pirate Training Card. (Photo Credit: Charly Charney Cohen)

I went to the Jon the Navigator to learn navigation skills and, when the lesson concluded faster than I’d expected, I got my box checked and was in the process of deciding where to go next when Jon addressed a few of us still lingering and entreated us to go below deck to see if we could find a letter written by one of the prisoners. We did and, sure enough, we found the letter—in addition to a locked box. This set us off on a storyline (although in the end, the locked box did not seem to have anything to do with it, even though we were able to put our newly learned negotiation skills to work in order to procure the key). I stuck with the storyline for the evening and it did pay off with a clear and delightful resolution in the end.

My colleague and literal partner in crime (’cause, y’know, we stole a ship), went to Captain Draken, learned negotiation skills and then, as the Captain began to teach others, felt at a loss for what to do next. Using the card as her guide, she went and learned many other skills—swordfighting among them—but utlimately felt unmoored. I picked her up after a narrative scene in the middle of the show that played to the whole ship and engaged her in my storyline.

In the end, it appeared that even though my colleague had trouble finding a storyline, the one I’d happened upon was not the only one aboard. As the evening was concluding, the pirates led us in sea shanties (aka. songs) and one of the songs—either by coincidence or clever design—provided an opportunity for audience members to shout out what they’d seen on the ship that night and, in doing so, broadcast to others what various stories had been about. Judging from what we heard (i.e., “kissing”), there were at least two love stories on board that night. This was a nice way to tie up loose ends and also to encourage pirates-in-training to return again for a future adventure.

There were quite a few ends to tie up and while many were covered by the song, not all were. In addition to the crew member storylines, the show also needed to deliver the verdict of whether or not we were admitted to the Pirate Council. This seemed to be determined by collecting the skill cards from all the pirate trainees and tallying the collective acquired skills. Additionally, there was an unexpected incident between two crew members in what we might call the “third act.” It was unclear based on our narrative experience whether or not this was connected to a storyline that had been underway the whole night. It seemed standalone, but that could easily have been a result of the limited action and dialog we’d been privvy to during our specific experiences.

All in all, this was a rich show with a lot to offer. In fact, it had so much to offer, it was tempting to want more in some departments—perhaps a practical payoff of the skills learned, where trainees put them to use or, as my colleague wished, even more sword fighting. After all, it’s rare we get to be present on a pirate ship surrounded by pirates doing pirate things. There’s something simple and spectacular about being present and witnessing them in their element.

Riley Cole as Harry Grey (left) & Bonnie-Lynn Montaño as Capt. Souvanna (center). (Photo Credit: C.C. Cohen)


  • Wear Arrrghyle. That’s our clever way of saying “dress like a pirate.” The audience is a big part of the show, the more audience members who dress up, the more it really feels like a pirate adventure. Be part of what makes your night awesome.
  • Bundle Up. The show is outdoors, like the entire thing. And it’s on the water. Wear a coat, windbreaker and/or warm layers. It’s great if you can still look pirate-y (hint: hat, eyepatch), but a pirate with hypothermia isn’t much help, so prioritize warmth.
  • Deck Hands Wear Deck Shoes. You’re on the deck of a ship. You’ll be on your feet and walking around for the entire show. You may climb up and down a ladder. Wear footwear that lets you do this safely and comfortably.
  • You Might Get Scurvy. The most convenient place to grab a pre-show bite is the San Pedro Fish Market. It’s convenience can’t be beat—it’s steps away from the dock. That being said, there’s not much veg or citrus on the menu, so you may want to pre-square your meals that day.
  • Head Before Tales. Use the restrooms on shore before you shove off as there aren’t any on the boat. There are public restrooms near the Maritime Museum and if you eat at SPFM, you can use their port-a-loos.
Sibling rivalry on the open ocean. (Photo Credit: Charly Charney Cohen)

Experiential Viewpoint Expression (E.V.E.):

Embodied, 1st person visual, 1st person narrative, participant, mortal.

Story Anchor:

When CHARACTER recognizes SOMEONE, CHARACTER takes action to help that SOMEONE, and then SOMEONE plays CHARACTER for a fool.

This is the Story Anchor for the storyline experienced on our visit. Vague names have been used so as not to spoil any plotlines. Based on Last Call Theatre’s reputation, this is likely one of many possible storylines. You may or may not experience this one on your seafaring adventure.

Pillars of Game:

Voluntary Participation — check!

Goal —to learn to be a pirate.

Rules —ask questions of the crew, follow their instructions, learn the skills being taught, stay aboard the ship.

Feedback —get checkmarks on your card after successfully learning a skill.

Conclusion: A portion of the evening is a game. In addition to the game of learning pirate skills, there is also an opportunity to learn—and play—the game Liar’s Dice. It’s possible there are more games on board.

Who Should Experience This?

Lovers of pirates and ships. Singers of sea shanties. Those curious to have a brief intro to a smattering of pirate skills. Immersive theater fans. Anyone looking for an unusual evening out and outdoors.

Ashley Busenlener as Aoife O’Malley and Ronen Rinzler as Jackie Grim share a drink. (Photo Credit: C.C. Cohen)



The Look Club

Eve Weston and Jessica Kantor created The Look Club to discusses immersive media through their site www.thelook.club and reviews of immersive stories.