The iconic musical “Peter Pan” takes flight this month at the Performing Arts Center in San Luis Obispo.
Originally written as a short story by J.M. Barrie in 1901, the play became a Broadway musical in 1954 starring Tony Award winner Mary Martin in the title role.
Produced locally by Kelrik Productions, “Peter Pan” is directed by Lauryn Judson and Erik Austin; the latter is also the musical’s choreographer and set designer and plays Captain Hook.
A delight for adults and children of all ages, the musical is perfect for families to enjoy together.
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“Peter Pan” opens with siblings Wendy (Taylor Peters), John (Sam Gomez) and Michael (Oliver Baker-Ballantyne) being whisked away from their London bedroom to enchanted Neverland by the spirited Peter Pan (Tabatha Skanes). This timeless and magical place is filled with Indians, pirates, mermaids and fairies.
Peter is determined to never grow up and remain a young boy forever. He entices Wendy to come to Neverland to be a mother to his friends, the Lost Boys. Peter’s mystical sidekick, the fairy Tinker Bell becomes jealous of Wendy’s new role.
The carefree world of Neverland is disrupted by the evil Captain Hook and his band of misfit pirates. Captain Hook wants to punish Peter for cutting off his hand in a duel and then feeding it to a crocodile.
With the help of Tiger Lily (Michaela Feroggiaro) and her Indian friends, Peter and the Lost Boys fight off the scheming pirates. But it is Tinker Bell who ultimately saves Peter in a selfless act of loyalty and friendship.
Exploring themes of childhood wonder and adventure, the story of “Peter Pan” represents the desire within us to remain carefree and emotionally unattached. However, it also reveals the loneliness inherent in a lifetime of eternal youth.
Skanes is wonderful as Peter and perfectly captures the free spirit and emotional shifts of this famous character with joyfulness and boundless energy.
Austin superbly plays Captain Hook as a bumbling idiot and egotistical leader rather than an evil and scary character. This refreshing portrayal, which almost channels Johnny Depp in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” adds humor to the show.
The “Peter Pan” cast includes 34 talented children, teens and adults from Santa Maria to Paso Robles performing as the Lost Boys, Indians and pirates.
The musical numbers, which are directed by Theresa Riforgiate, include such familiar songs as “I Won’t Grow Up,” “I’ve Gotta Crow” and “Never Never Land.”
Austin’s set design is incredibly impressive, as are the flying effects by ZFX, Inc.
By using dramatic colors, lush landscapes and painted murals, Austin evokes the dreamlike charm of Neverland. The amazing use of flight by Peter and other characters completes the enchanting style of the show.
Lighting and technical director David Beals creatively uses laser lights to bring Tinker Bell to life.
Costume design by “Peter Pan” is by Kathleen Forster, with costumes provided by Costume Capers.
The only technical flaw apparent during a recent was the sometimes muffled sound of the dialogue through the actors’ head microphones.
“Neverland is a place of refuge and joy for generation after generation. It celebrates our inner child … and the longing we all have to fly!” Austin and Judson wrote in the program for “Peter Pan.”
So celebrate the joy of imagination and discover your inner child with a high-flying trip to Neverland, courtesy of the legendary Peter Pan and his magical friends.