[Since PETER PAN is a child-oriented play, most of this review is as told to me by my date for the evening, Julia Finkel, my 10 year old granddaughter. (My comments will be enclosed in parentheses)]
This is not the Disney PETER PAN or the one I’m familiar with. (It is indeed a new musical version). I didn’t recognize any of the music. (Music by George Siles, Lyrics by Anthony Drewe). I liked the song Peter sang with the Lost Boys ( the program did not list the musical numbers) but my favorite was the song the Mother (Rebecca Shoemaker as Mrs. Darling) sang when the children were asleep in the nursery. (It was, indeed the best song in the score) She had a really good voice. (I agree—a fine performance). I didn’t understand what the first song, sung by the Londoners, had anything to do with the story . (It was a good piece of ensemble singing, but didn’t add anything to the production except a chance for an chorus number in costume).
I thought it was good to have a boy playing Peter (a fine energetic performance by P. J. Schweizer). He has beautiful blue eyes. I thought Wendy (Maddie Aicher) was very grown up for an 8th grader. She sang well and was a good actress. The other Darling kids (Al Giruzzi as John and Conner Kirk as Michael) were cute and seemed real. I really liked Nana the dog(Jason Burke). He was funny (and had much more to do than I remember in any other version of Peter Pan). Mr. Darling (Joe Ciresi) was better as Captain Hook. He was funny and evil at the same time. The rest of the Pirates(Ben Fried, Carly Fried, Michael Kiesling, Newel Gatrell, Marc Sherfield, Casey Ingle, Matt Kiesling, and Harrison Stengle) were a lot of fun. They sang well together.
All the Lost Boys (Aj Sermarini, Ben Williams, Charlie Harrison, Isabella Rota-Talarico, David Helmer and Sam Pettine) were good. I was glad they got adopted in the end. But my favorite actor was Tiger Lily/Liza the maid (Ashley Orsino). She must have gone to gymnastic school.
I was glad the Storyteller (Donna Dougherty) turned out to be the older Wendy in the ending (a good piece of plotting by book writer Willis Hall).
I really liked Tinker Bell (a lighting gem provided by lighting designer Carcheri Gingrasso). It was great to see her under the covers with John and Michael and all over everywhere. The fight scenes(choreographed by Neal Newman) were terrific. I liked the way Peter and Wendy and John and Michael flew (courtesy of Tim MacKay). I could see the wires, but it was still magical.
The sets and costumes were perfect (a slightly unwieldy wagon for the nursery scene will undoubtedly be better as the run progresses). The cast used every part of the stage. The orchestra was just right (particularly the music for Tinker Bell). I didn’t think the big crocodile was needed. It just took up time and it would be better to imagine what happened to Hook. I didn’t understand why there were Mermaids in the show. They didn’t seem to fit in anywhere.
The show was too long (I agree-some cutting would help here), but I enjoyed it. I would tell my friends to see PETER PAN.
PETER PAN: A MUSICAL ADVENTURE
Book by Willis Hall
Music by George Siles
Lyrics by Anthony Drewe
Directed by Deborah Stimson-Snow
June 2 – 19, 2011
Tri-County Performing Arts Center (Village Productions)
245 E. High Street