|'Peter Pan' Flies High at Wagon Wheel|
|Sunday, 10 June 2012 15:38|
For more than a century, J.M. Barrie’s story of Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn’t grow up, has held the imagination of children of all ages.
One of its most popular incarnations is the 1954 musical created for television and transferred to the theatrical stage. The reason for this popularity is obvious in the production which opened the 2012 season Wednesday for Warsaw’s Wagon Wheel Theatre.
The large and enthusiastic audience had no problem buying into the impressive aerial effects which allowed Peter (Lee Slobotkin) and the aptly-named Darling children — Wendy (Leigh Ellen Jones), Michael (Derek Stiffler) and John (Chase Stiffler) — to magically soar aloft from their London nursery to the exciting shores of Neverland.
Once there, the adventures began, as the Lost Boys (Stephen
The double role of Mr. Darling/Captain Hook is every scenery-chewers dream and WW veteran Andy Robinson makes the most of it. Waving his gleaming hook aloft, he sets a variety of tempos while plotting the capture of Peter who fed Hook’s hand to the Crocodile which now pursues the Captain, eager for the rest of him. As the hungry, tick-tocking lizard, Zack Vandever earned spontaneous applause on his first slither across the stage.
The pirates and the Indians — Matthew Janisse, Noah Ricketts, Kevin Niertzel, Derek Grose and Javier Ferreira — do double duty, claiming the “never a dull moment” award as they are on stage singing and dancing and off stage changing personas. Only Dan Smith as Hook’s sidekick Smee, is piratical throughout.
There is little if anything to fault in this production. The pirates/Indians are outstanding in their dance sequences, as are the Lost Boys. ”I Won’t Grow Up” and “Ugh-A-Wug” are outstanding examples of director Scott Michaels’ choreographic talent. The same is true of the pirates’ execution of “Hook’s Tango, Tarantella and Waltz.” Never was a bloodthirsty “Yo ho” so hilarious.
As noted, the flying sequences are impressive, especially considering the lack of height allowed. Peter flies frequently and even duels with Hook while aloft. When Peter and the Darling kids take to the air in “I’m Flying,” it earns well-deserved applause. Especially appealing throughout is the smaller Stiffler brother. Derek flies up rapidly when thinking his loveliest thought and carries his Teddy bear along on the trip.
In addition to the aerial effects and the enthusiastic performances of the actors, a good portion of the credit for the impressive factor of this “Peter Pan” must go to the production staff.
The eight piece orchestra, under the direction of Thomas N. Sterling, delivers a full-bodied interpretation of the music by Moose Charlap and Jule Styne. In conjunction with sound designer Chris Pollnow, it supports but never overpowers the singers or the action.
The lighting is outstanding, especially as Peter and the children fly over London at night. In this story, an important character is created by a fast-moving light and a chiming keyboard. There is never a doubt about what Tinker Bell is feeling — or where she is — at any moment — and when her light is fading, the audience responded instantly to Peter’s request for life-giving applause.
As always, costume designer Stephen R. Hollenbeck has created the perfect ensembles for every character, from the childrens’ bedwear to Hook’s strikingly flashy outfit (Love that coat!). Note: character hair is always important and here it is hats’ off to wig designer Jennifer Dow for all, especially Hook’s great black mane!
Even for those of us who have grown up, this “Peter Pan” provides a brief but welcome return to believing
“PETER PAN” plays at the Wagon Wheel Theatre, 2517 E. Center Street in Warsaw through Saturday. For performance times and reservations, call (574) 267-8041 or (800) 823-2618 or visit www.wagonwheeltheatre.org
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 August 2012 02:08|