While Worth Seeing, Peter Pan Ultimately Misses the Mark
Lawrance Bernabo, Associated Press
December 6, 2013
Peter Pan or the Boy Who Would Not Grow Up … opened Thursday night at the Duluth Playhouse. This is not the musical Peter Pan of our youth. In this variant, the title character is played by a male, Tinkerbell by an actual woman, and Mr. Darling does not double as Captain Hook. This production has some truly spectacular elements, well worth seeing, but ultimately misses the magic that makes this a timeless tale.
Everybody knows the show must go on, but the same rule does not apply to final dress rehearsals, at least not Wednesday night, and there were times when that night off showed. Moving around the massive sets that make up Curtis Phillips’ brilliant set design was problematic, as was the lesser tech demand of tying a tie. More disconcerting was the problems with the sound system, which were as bad as anything I have heard to date on opening night at the Playhouse. But these are things that get ironed out for the most part by the second or third night.
The true culprit is the script, a “new version” by John Caird and Trevor Nunn, working from J.M. Barrie’s original play. The plot is enchanting and the characters memorable, but the first scene took too long to get to the arrival of Peter, and the final scene resonates with some obvious contemporary elements that I found unnecessary.
Jake Caceres gets the choice role of Captain Hook, but the speeches he gets to declaim just have no meat on the bone for the sort of scenery chewer you would expect. The most riveting character, upon whose every word we hang, is Tiger Lily (Lacy Habdas), and she is speaking in a unknown tongue, not to mention wearing a gorgeous costume accented with body paint.
No wonder they turned this into a musical.
The tale is told by a Story Teller (John Schmidt). It is one thing to have such a narrator providing expository details in Into the Woods, where the collision of fairy tales becomes rather confusing. But for a well-known and beloved tale such as Peter Pan, it is something decidedly different and definitely detrimental because it results in telling rather than showing, and the showing (or the seeing) is far and away the best part of this show.
From the moment Kyle McMillan flies through the bedroom window, he is Peter Pan, and along with Laura Grieme’s Wendy manage to maintain the illusion that they are not twice the age of their characters, giving director Robert Lee a pair of solid foundations on which to build. The Lost Boys and Pirates all stand out as unique, although the most impressive aspect Lee brought to this production was the transformation of the Indians into Aztecs. Going down South American way was absolutely inspired.
The audience liked the flying, of course, but also the silly stuff, which was pretty much anything Nathan Olsen did as Tootles and whenever Cookson (Kaitlyn Moser) insisted she was a man, but especially every line uttered by Mike Pederson as Smee, whose final farewell to his Captain was the best-written speech of the night. That being said, no one stole the show like the Crocodile (Neil Vaidyanathan), not even the beloved Nana (Scott Hebert).
Having Tinkerbell change from a dancing ball of light in the Darlings’ bedroom to a real actress in Neverland was not worth the tradeoff. Amber Burns is as cute as they come around here, but the biggest disappointment of the night was that we did not get to clap our hands for the most famous light cue in theater history.
That is where we should have embraced the magic.
Peter Pan was showed at the Duluth Playhouse. Most people think of the good old musical, but this was much different. The main character is played by a male and Tinkerbell was a woman, Mr. Darling doesn’t play Captain Hook. This play was well put together and very entertaining even without most of the magic that it usually portrays.
The set was brilliant and very large. The lighting was quite good, but the sound system had a few problems, but nothing that you couldn’t overlook once it got going.
Peter Pan was written by John Caird and Trevor Nunn, and they took re-wrote the play from the original one done by J.M. Barrie. The main theme of this was very well put and the actors were memorable. The first scene took a while before we could see Peter. Jake Caceres played Captain Hook, and the speeches he had didn’t have enough emotion and character to them as they could have. The most memorable character was Tiger Lily played by Lacy Habdas. She was speaking in a unknown language and had an amazing costume.
The old tale was told by John Schmidt who was the Story Teller. This part was a little unnecessary because it was telling a story rather than showing and watching plays is the best part. It was very different, but unnecessary.
My favorite scene was when Peter Pan and Wendy (played by Laura Grieme) manage to hold on to the illusion that they are not twice the age of the character; that gave the director Robert Lee good foundation to build the play off of. The Pirates and the Lost boys were the most unique, they were very impressive and had a good part to the play. Robert Lee was very creative in the way he took the play to South America. It was very inspiring.
The flying was incredible, and what Nathan Olsen did as Tootles was very silly and enjoyable. Cookson was played by Kaitlyn Moser was also very entertaining.
All the actors worked well together and not one of them over did the other which is nice to see.
That being said, the biggest hardship of the night was the fact that the audience didn’t get to appreciate the most famous light cue ever.
Over all it was a nice play with a few twists that didn’t appeal very well to people wanting to see the original musical of Peter Pan.
Duluth Playhouse, on Thursday the 5th, opened up with one of the most memorable play/movie that has been around for many years, Peter Pan. For many people who are familiar with the story of Peter Pan, there has been several versions to it that has been reenacted. "A boy who doesn't age, who spends his never ending childhood in a place called Neverland filled with many other characters and creatures" have always been the main point of the story that hasn’t change as time does. Although it stuck with the main story, many were shocked and a little disappointed in the few changes that they did make in the play.
One of the most noticing change in the play was Peter Pan was actually being played as a boy. In Peter Pan the musical, many have remember Mary Martin as playing Peter Pan, which I personally believe was excellent. In the 20th century, many men had played women roles in show or plays, often because they didn’t quite accept the fact that women are equal to men. Men has always been seen as being more superior to women and so the fact that they had a girl take a man’s role and did a fantastic job was brilliant. Another change that many people were not a fan of is Tinkerbell turning into a human. From our child hood, we was known as Tinkerbell being a little light, now, she develops into a girl and an actual human. This also took away the magical and fairy tale illusion from the play.
Something that I did find new and amazing was he flying in the play. Of the course the flying was something major that was essential in the play, but I saw it as something challenging and different that was in the Playhouse for this year at UMD and for the characters who played it. Wearing the harness was probably uncomfortable and a little difficult to move in, but the characters did a wonderful job at staying in character and not being bothered by it. I was a little disappointed in some of the sound effects. At times, some of the sounds weren’t as loud enough or it seemed to be lagging on some parts.
Overall, depending a person’s interest, I believe this play is worth seeing, but do believe there are parts where it does need to be perfected. I do believe since it was the first night of opening, of course there was going to be a few and technical problems, but those will be able to be fix as the show continues to play. I believe since the play wasn’t a musical, it kind of takes away some of the excitement in the play. It seemed like they tried to throw in a few comic lines to make up for it, but it wasn’t as strong as it should be. I do believe for this play to be a success in the near future, the producer and cast should take a look as portraying this play as a musical or if not doing a musical, to keep some of the roles in the older play the same and putting emphasis on newer stuff that will make up for whatever they are taking out.
Peter Pan or The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up… is a timeless tale that many have grown up with! The Duluth Playhouse has chosen a family friendly show for these holidays. Although this is kid friendly, there were a few lines that included some swearing. This was not the musical Peter Pan that many have grown up with. It is told by a storyteller (John Schmidt) although the story was all laid out; it was difficult to hear everything with some sound issues. Written originally by J.M. Barrie this was the new version by John Caird and Trevor Nunn. This new version lacked the magical feeling of childhood. The playwright’s had a slow beginning that took a little too long to introduce Peter Pan (Kyle McMillan) himself.
Director Robert Lee chose to cast all adult actors, even as the children Wendy Darling (Laura Grieme), Michael Darling (Sara Wabrowetz), and John Darling (Pat Carroll). The casting of adults as kids roles somewhat stole the magic from the idea of never wanting to grow up and flying to Neverland to stay young forever. Once in Neverland Peter and the Darling’s met up with the lost boys. A group of misfit boys that long for a mother; the lost boys provided a three stooges comic relief for the show. Tootles (Nathan Olsen) was one of the funniest lost boys and provided a hilarious innocence almost better than Wendy, Michael, and John. Michael who was played by Wabrowetz reached the line of cute little boy to annoying whining child. Aside from the lost boys, Captain Hook’s (Jake Caceres) right hand pirate Smee was played by Mike Pederson. Pederson portrayed the awkward yet sweet pirate that had a solo about going out to sea that left the audience wanting more! Peter Pan, the star of this tale was played by McMillan, he delivered a childish boy that was stubborn and brave exceptionally. His motions while in flight concealed the illusion that he was actually hanging from a wire!
One of the challenges about this show is that many actors have to fly, Curtis Phillips, the set designer, designed a brilliant set that allowed for such mechanics to go smoothly. When Peter Pan brought the Darling’s to Neverland their whole house lifted and the children flew in the night sky, while Neverland was brought to life on stage. Neverland had an almost jungle feel to the scenery. Captain Hook’s ship just sailed on stage with wheels that allowed it to be easily accessible.
The lighting design, sound design, and scenic design were definitely the magic that made this show. Although the acting was subpar for a few, overall it was entertaining. The story was not as effectively told as it could have been. This was more so the playwrights fault rather the actors. Peter Pan Or The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up… should be performed as a musical. This specific version was like a bedtime story that at times felt like it was never going to end. The magic that this show needed was lacking but the story was never the less told.
Peter Pan, Or The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up, premiered December 5 at The Duluth Playhouse, which has been providing the community with theater entertainment since 1914. With the theater seats full, the performance really seemed to capture audiences with entertainment.
The set was one element of the performance that seemed to have a lot of effort put forth into it and also used the theater space efficiently. The efficiency of the set pieces could be noticed in the transition of the set from the character’s London home to Neverland. When Peter Pan teaches the children to fly and they head to Neverland, all the characters on stage were lifted with wires into the air to give the illusion that they were flying. While the characters were flying to Neverland the set for their London home was moved into the fly space of the theater by wire and the set representing Neverland was wheeled onto stage. By having the London home set brought off stage and the Neverland set brought onto stage while the characters were flying allowed for set transition while still giving the audience something to look at, instead of stage managers moving set pieces.
Another impressive feature of the performance was the props used. The alligator that stalks Captain Hook specifically was notable. To represent the alligator, the performance featured a huge mold of an alligator set on wheels, with a cast member inside the mold moving it with his hidden hands and feet. Not only was the alligator able to be operated by a cast member but it also had a mechanical mouth, which would move to sing along with the pirates to generated tons of laughter throughout the theater. The large weapons used by the native people were also very intricate.
One cast member, though not on stage very much throughout the performance, impressed me in how well he portrayed his character and connected with the audience. John Schmidt, the storyteller of the performance, seemed to fit the story teller persona very well with his ability to transition the story into words. When he was on stage storytelling, he seemed to pick out different audience members and talk directly with them, at times waving to little kids in the audience. With his ability to move around the stage and connect with the audience members, young and old, seemed to engage them into the performance.
Laura Grieme, who played Wendy Darling in Peter Pan, was another performer that seemed to capture her character well. Wendy’s character switches back and forth between a little kid personality to a mother personality throughout the play, which Grieme seemed to do flawlessly. Also notable was Grieme’s ability to interact well with the other cast members on stage.
Overall the performance was well produced. Although entertaining, there were some noticeable errors, such as a fake mustache falling from one of the pirate’s faces. Though this was a mistake, it still enticed laughter from some of the children attending the play. Peter Pan is supposed to appeal to the demographic of families with children or just children in general, from the looks of the audience on Wednesday night, this was accomplished.
Peter Pan or the Boy Who Would Not Grow Up opened Thursday, December 5th at the Duluth Playhouse. The well-known tale of Neverland and its inhabitants was told with a bit of a twist, written by John Caird and Trevor Nunn. The main storyline as most people know it, however, remained the same.
The scene design was very elaborate and beautiful, from the realistic and charming bedroom in the Darling house to the magical and enchanting Neverland. The scene changes were also done smoothly and quietly, and were always done in the background of something else going on so there were no “dead” spots while the audience waited for the scene to change. A particularly clever scene change was the first, when the children flew away to Neverland and the house swiftly disappeared beneath them.
The costumes were also very good and created believable characters, but were nothing new or unexpected. The lost boys were each their own animal, the pirates were in typical pirate costumes, and Tinkerbelle looked very fairy-like in her sparkly get-up. The natives were more Aztec in nature than the usual Native Americans in the classic tale, and had very interesting costumes made complete with intricate body paint.
The sound was good, but the music was much too loud at times and completely drowned out what the characters were saying. At times the narrator’s microphone seemed to be not working, and the loud music made him impossible to hear. Otherwise, the music added intensity and a feeling of magic to scenes that would have otherwise fallen a bit flat.
Lighting was used for many different elements of the show, from representing Tinkerbell as a flashing ball of light in the beginning to setting the mood with different colors; the lights turned green when the crocodile first appeared, blue when the narrator was talking about water, and red when the children were brought to the pirate ship.
The actors were all quite charming, and helped make the show especially appealing to the children of the audience. Kyle McMillan as Peter was extremely energetic, and every part the wild boy determined not to grow up. Laura Grieme as Wendy was very believable in her role, and wonderfully acted the part of sensible and responsible “mother” to the boys. The lost boys were all very charming and lovable, and all had unique personalities that each had their time to shine. The boys all added energy to their scenes and were very enjoyable to watch. Amber Burns as Tinkerbell was extremely cute and sassy, and her high voice and light steps added to the fairy we all know and love. All of the actors impressively stayed in character even during intermission while they set up the next scene.
The storyline was interesting, but very slow-moving at times. The beginning had a very slow start, with a lot of unneeded dialogue before Peter appeared. The scenes with the natives had long strings of dialogue the audience could not understand, and with no interpretation the dialogue just slowed the momentum of the scenes down. After reaching the climax of defeating the pirates and returning home to England, the final scene was very drawn out and went too far past the climax, including a lot of information that was not needed and did not add to the show at all.
As a classic children’s tale, the entire show was very child-oriented with its slapstick comedy and big gestures meant to cater to the younger audience. This made the show cute and enjoyable to watch, but consequently there was no depth to the show and did not create any cause to care about the characters.
Overall, Peter Pan was a quite predictable show that deviated little from the classic tale, but was nonetheless a lovely rendition of the well-known children’s tale and very enjoyable to watch.
The Duluth Playhouse performed John Caird and Trevor Nunn’s version of J.M. Barrie’s well-known story of Peter Pan on Wednesday, December 11th. The story is of a mischievous, flying boy who lives on the small island of Neverland with the lost boys. Neverland allows these boys never grow up and ensures that they will be able to continue to always have fun. Late one evening Peter visit’s the Darling family’s nursery in London and brings the Darling children Wendy, John, and Michael to Neverland so Wendy can tell stories and be a mother to Peter and the lost boys.
This show is filled with excitement that is enjoyable to attend as an adult or child. The impressively diverse set and scenic design by Don Brown, Todd Smith, Dale Sayers and Laurel Sanders, brought the audience to Neverland with its colors and detail. It was transformed from a children’s nursery, to the lost boy’s home in Neverland, to a Mermaid Lagoon, and a pirate ship. Almost every piece of the set was able to change with the next scene. The lighting board operator, Kaci Brock, aided the audience’s travels to the Darling’s nursery and Neverland when the lights would flash and flicker to add feelings of excitement and suspense. Another exciting element of the show was that the actors were able to fly around the stage using cables (and a little bit of pixy dust).
The actor’s embraced their childlike qualities during this memorable performance. At first, it was apparent that these actors were clearly adults trying to look the part of nine to fourteen year olds, but as the show went on the actors used their talent and high energy to make the audience forget that they didn’t fully look the part and became fully entranced by these children’s stories. Nana, the Darling family dog, even came to life for the audience, even though it was Scott Hebert in a large dog costume.
The costumes were fun and brought an extra imagination-engaging element to the production. Some costumes did not seem as fitting to roles as others did though. Captain Hook looked much like Captain Jack Sparrow from The Pirates of the Caribbean, not what one would expect from a pirate in a children’s story. Another costume that does not closely follow the common portrayal of the character was Tinker Bell. Far from Disney’s illustration of Tinker Bell, of a blonde, dainty fairy, which is the image the name Tinker Bell brings to most people’s minds, the Playhouse’s Tinker Bell seemed to come straight from Shakespeare’s A Mid- Summer Night’s Dream. She had paint on her body along with horns coming out of her head.
The performance was funny, touching, and very enjoyable over all. The combination of fantastic a fantastic set, attention grabbing lighting, high energy cast, and fun costumes this production entices the senses. Watching the show, the audience is reminded of the powers a child’s imagination holds and how even though we may grow older, it doesn’t always mean we have to grow up.
Peter Pan is a story that has captured the imagination of children for generations. It is a fascinating tale of a mischievous little boy who never grows old. He has wondrous adventures fending off pirates, swimming with mermaids, and dealing with the natives of Neverland. In its original theatrical format Peter Pan was a musical, but Thursday’s performance at the Duluth Playhouse was formatted to be more like a narrative story.
The tale was told by John Schmidt. Schmidt forms a central pillar of the play as he narrates many of the scenes. The beginning of the production introduces Schmidt as a ragged, delusional, yet lovable tramp that appears whenever the action stops. Schmidt did a seemingly wonderful job, as many of the emotions he attempted to portray were very convincing. It is no fault of Schmidt’s, but his character did put a confusing twist on the play. For instance, it was not clear whether the story was supposed to be based in reality or Schmidt’s mind, as his character did not appear sane. As the play progressed, the confusing dialog in which the audience was first introduced dissipates. This occurs as the story begins to be revealed.
The first characters introduced are the members of the Darling family. Mr. Darling (Jason Scorich) and Mrs. Darling (Jenny Ross) aren’t really an integral part of the production, but their back story seemed necessary. The characters themselves are a bit boring, but the love displayed between the members of the family helps to clarify the strong emotions of the children displayed later in the production.
The Darling children are as follows: Wendy Darling (Laura Grieme), John Darling (Pat Carroll), and Michael Darling (Sara Wabrowetz). Wendy is the major heroine and the other two children play minor roles. Wendy’s heroic male counterpart is seen in the character Peter Pan (Kyle McMillan). Being the major characters, the production depended heavily on both Grieme and McMillan’s acting ability. When considering how much older the leads were compared to the characters they played, it is understandable to see how difficult these characters could be to portray.
Grieme did a marvelous job. She portrayed the pure and innocent daughter all parents hope to have. When introduced to periods in which she was to display great amounts of emotion, Grieme behaved as was expected of a starry eyed youth. As Wendy and Peter are left upon a rock, Wendy adamantly refuses to abandon him showing the stubbornness of youth, and a sense of honor only small children still believe in. This scene showcased Grieme at her utmost best and left a tear in the eye of the common play goer. As her counterpart in this scene, McMillian didn’t really stand up to Grieme all throughout the play.
McMillian appeared to consistently over act. He both over exaggerated his movements and manner of speech. He was not bad, but he seemed to overdo it a tad. To his credit though, he did appear to be a favorite of the children who attended the play. His excited nature did earn exclamations of glee from the young boys and girls in the audience. All in all, Peter and his troupe of lost boys were the crowd favorite. The boys’ antics gained them cheers of laughter, and definitely provided much of the shows comic value.
The play house’s Peter Pan is definitely a play for the whole family to see. All in all the play was a joy to watch. With all the controversial theater played in the Duluth area recently, it was nice to see something that just brought laughter to the gut. Well worth the 17 dollars, and I would love to see something like this again. It really brings out the kid in you.
The Peter Pan that opened last week at the playhouse is not the version most people remember watching growing up, which is good to note before attending this slightly off version of the childhood classic. In this version, Peter is played by what appears to be a full grown man, contrary to the characters traditional age. While it is true that the production is worth viewing, One should not expect anything like the childhood fairytale.
Perhaps this is because of Trevor Nunn and John Caird, who wrote the newer take on J.M. Barrie’s original version. The characters are memorable enough, and the plot is actually quite charming. Some modern components in the last scene, however, are off-putting, and the narration done by John Schmidt seems completely unnecessary as well as significantly distracting to anyone who already knows the story by heart.
Peter Pan is played by Kyle McMillan, Captain Hook by Jake Caceres, and Tinkerbell by Amber burns. These three hallmarks of the original story somehow lose their "magical" authenticity in this muffed up version. The most captivating character, perhaps, was that of Tiger Lily, played by Lacy Habdas. While one cannot understand the words coming out of her mouth (she speaks in an unknown language), her body language, which is highlighted by a beautifully designed costume that incorporates vivid body paint, does most of her talking.
McMillan and Laura Grieme, who plays Wendy, do a fine job of acting half their age from the get go, which only adds to the magnificent job director Robert Lee does with probably the most appealing characters in the entire show, The Lost Boys. No One Lost Boy is alike, which can be said for the pirates as well, but nothing could be compared to the depth Lee adds to the indians by portraying them as mayan warriors, which was an absolutely fantastic touch.
That being said, not one character stole the spotlight quite like the Crocodile, whose hilarious antics were actually a sight to see. His part was played by Neil Vaidyanathan.
While the newer version is virtually incomparable to the timeless classic everyone knows and loves, good things can be said about all the aesthetic aspects of the productions company’s efforts, and one is ultimately reminded of the reason why anyone would want to find neverland in the first place.
The Duluth Playhouse took on the timeless classic Peter Pan or The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up last night, and they did a fantastic job of telling the magical tale. The actors and the technical elements in this show melded together to bring the true magic of The Never Land to the stage. Peter Pan succeeded at drawing the audience back to the simplistic and blissful times of childhood.
The actors really enthralled the audience. All of the actors did an excellent job of portraying characters that were less than half their age. Kyle McMillan, who played Peter Pan, seemed to act almost too young a certain times, acting like a toddler in a tantrum rather than a child who has grown out of that phase. However, McMillan still stole the show. Also, Laura Grieme created a loveable and caring character in her performance of Wendy. Grieme did a fantastic job of acting as young girl who wants to be a mother, as most little girls do. The Lost Boys of the Never Land had an wonderful performance. The boy who stood out most was Tootles, who was played by Nathan Olsen. As a young boy who is quiet, shy, and nervous, Olsen brought a fair amount of the show's comedy to the stage with his facial expressions and panicky remarks.
The technical aspects of Peter Pan or The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up were astounding. The lighting design supported the imaginary and magic world of The Never Land. The designer used dramatically vivid and vibrant colors to light the world of the Lost Boys, the pirates, and the other natives of the dream land. One of the impressive parts of the lighting design was the use of bright footlights to create the intense shadow of Peter Pan once it's sewn back onto him. The lights were also used to create the illusion of waves at Mermaid Cove along with sound effects. The music itself was enjoyable, although it masked the voices at some points. The microphone for the Storyteller seemed to have some kind of interference and did not do much to amplify his voice. The set of Peter Pan was extraordinary. The opening scene, which took place in the Darling nursery, was adorned with toys and other details. The beds, which were put on wheels for better movement, could have been stabilized in some way to avoid the movement that occurred several times throughout the show. The most magical part of the entire show took place as the Darling children first took flight. The music intensified, the lights transitioned into a night scene, and the set moved around the swinging actors. Fog rolled over the stage, and the audience, sat mouth agape.
Overall, Peter Pan or The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up was an amazing show. It left the adult audience with nostalgia of childhood, and children with imaginations full of wonder.
The Duluth Playhouse’s unforgettable version of Peter Pan, was tremendous fun for all ages. The performers, as well as costume, lighting, and scenic designers, all collaborated to bring a lively Disnified night to downtown Duluth.
Curtis Phillips’ scenic design was fitting and efficient. While only consisting of two different sets, it still proved to be enlightening and vibrant. The first scene took place in the children’s nursery. Several towering shelves outfitted with many differing toys, were also accompanied by a small bunk bed. The transitions from one set to the next were barely noticeable. Fog machines added to the magical feel for the kids as well as concealing scene changes. Phillips’ use of scenic design really brought on the childhood fantasy.
The lighting, by Jim Eischen, showcased the less is more technique well. While not overbearing, the lights created a cheery, other world feel. This was quite useful in creating the bright ambiance of neverland.
The characters all conveyed their personas in a magnificent way. Funny enough, It appeared the audience enjoyed the animals the most. The families dog, as well as the hungry crocodile were both crowd favorites. Both were powered by humans and moved well across the stage; encompassing their animal’s mobility. The caricature mascot heads of these creatures were interesting to see.
While all characters were on point, some could have perhaps been acted by persons a little younger in age. Many found it a little disturbing when John, the younger brother, who is supposed to be ten years old, is played by someone who is balding and sporting a five o’clock shadow.
The music, throughout, seemed unnecessary. Much of it was pretty cheesy and at one point played at an inopportune moment. The unwanted melody was soon shut off and the performers carried on. Throughout the play in many scenes, the music drowned out the characters. This especially happened to the storyteller, played by John Schmidt, whose quieter voice projection made some lose part of the storyline. While the soundtrack was a nice attempt, it overall didn’t add anything positive to the performance.
Carrie Mohn’s, costume design was very exciting to see throughout. Captain Hook’s costume embodied the Keith Richards/Johnny Depp persona. Instead of the actor having to do much, the costume did it for him. The Indian princess, Tiger Lily, as well as the rest of her tribe, bore naturalistic tattoos, and dressed in buckskin garments that barely hid their hind quarters.
By far, the most amazing part of the show was the flying. The cables were so well hid that it seemed as though the pixie dust really had prevailed. The actors that had the task of soaring from one end of the stage to the other did so in a beautifully gracious manner.
Despite the cheesy music, odd age selections, and minor technical error, this performance was done terrifically. The acting, scenic design, acrobatic flying, and costumes all combined to make an exceptional evening. Whether elder or toddler, this show brought back the Disney memories present in everyone.
For some people Peter Pan is the first child utopia that we are exposed to and the story paints childhood as this perfect time of creativity and imagination. The Disney movie definitely captured these feelings but this play by John Caird and Trevor Nunn only managed to capture a small sense of these feelings. The set design, costumes and props deserve high praise however because they felt very true to the world they were creating. The Aztec costumes and the costume of Tiger Lilly were particularly extremely detail oriented. The Lost Boys costumes felt less impressive by comparison and felt like they were made less meticulously.
Some scenes that were very engaging and fun to experience were when Peter first flies through the window at the house and the scene where Captain Hook is defeated. A sense of nostalgia was felt for the movie when Peter flew that window because it felt very real and magical at the same time and Peter Pan had a strong sense of charisma like he does in the movie. This part of the play really set the scene for the rest of the performance because it introduced the audience to the magical wonder of Peter Pan and the possibility of living in a magical world called Never Land.
The battle with Captain Hook was quite amazing even though it was quite brief as far as fights go. Captain Hook was portrayed as a semi-serious and semi-silly antagonist who was fitting because this play is geared towards families which means that he can’t be too dark or nefarious. Captain Hook’s defeat was great symbolism for growing up and no longer being controlled by your parents even though Never Land is supposed to be about being a kid forever.
One aspect of this play that could have possibly been changed was the fact that a lot of time is spent outside of Never Land in this play. It’s possible that a harder focus on Never Land could have helped capture a stronger sense of childhood wonder and given the audience better insight into the universe. The father of the children not being played by the same actor playing Captain Hook was an interesting decision and it’s certainly possible that the directors were going for something stronger but was hard to detect or appreciate.
The lighting designers certainly made some very strong decision in certain areas of the play but certain parts of Never Land felt strangely lit or some lighting queues felt mistimed or out of place. It’s certainly possible that they were just working out kinks and everything went smoothly the next night but it was slightly distracting for those brief periods of time. The stage hands and the people responsible for transitions between scenes deserve two thumbs up because changing locations were fast and efficient.
This play was certainly an extremely entertaining rendition of Peter Pan that certainly has the possibility to capture the hearts of kids who come and watch it and the small faults pointed out earlier were not enough to pull someone out of the play.
Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Would Not Grow Up, opened at the Duluth Playhouse on December 5th 2013. John Craird and Trevor Nunn took J.M. Barrie’s original Peter Pan and twisted it into a unique version of their own. Originally a musical but was turned into a story narrated by John Schmidt for this Duluth production. This version of the magical story from our childhood was a disappointment to many.
The director Robert Lee chose to cast all adult characters for this play. The actors did fine jobs with their parts however the adult roles took away from the young playfulness of the characters we love. This was a far cry from the story we are use to about Peter Pan “a young boy” going to Neverland and never wanting to grow up. They took something that’s known for being youthful, and magical and tried turning it into something for a more mature audience.
Another thing that was disappointing was tinker bell turning into an actually human instead of staying as a “fairylike” character like we knew her growing up. This also took a lot of the magic out of the play
You could tell that someone put a lot of effort into the set. One thing that kept what little magic was left in the play was the actors actually flying across the stage. This made the play feel alive. The props added to the playfulness of what Neverland is supposed to be known for. One prop that really stuck out was the alligator. The alligator was on wheels and there was someone inside of the alligator moving it around. It was funny because when there was singing the alligator’s mouth would move as if it were singing along.
The lighting and sound designers both added much to setting the mood of the play. There were some problems with the sound and it was hard to hear at times but other than those few occurrences it was great. The lighting designer did a great job with tinker bell which added to the disappointment when she turned into a human.
If you can keep an open mind this play is definitely worth seeing but if you compare it to the original you’ll leave unsatisfied. This was a great effort with unique ideas but some things will always be better in original form.
This page contains a single entry by Mark Harvey published on December 6, 2013 9:42 AM.
Born Yesterday - The Guthrie Theater was the previous entry in this blog.
Compleat Female Stage Beauty - UMD Theatre is the next entry in this blog.
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