July 23, 2008

‘Peter Pan’ a Fun Frolic

By Nancy Brokaw

J.M. Barrie wrote "Peter Pan" in 1904 and the heart of the story holds. We still feel the dueling attractions of hearth and home versus the call of adventure just outside the window.

"Peter Pan," now playing at Miller Park Summer Theater, gets that vibe just right. Home is where the heart is but - oh! - the adventures to be had in Neverland!

On Miller Park's outdoor stage, directors Tricia Stiller and Troy Clark manage, with help from clever, transformational sets by Jeremy Stiller and fun costumes by Opal Virtue, to make us believe not only in fairies but in the whole swashbuckling adventure of it all.

Flying is accomplished not by wires but by wheels hidden in shoes and the ocean is just a splash away, stage right.

Live music is a rare treat and this show's 13-piece orchestra enriches the entire production, from the first strains of the overture to the charming incidental music.

Rachel Aupperle is a pixie of a Pan - sprightly, innocent and daring, and in fine voice. Lauren Themanson, as Wendy, also sings well, and is so very grounded. Her brothers Ryan Cavallo (as John) and Parker Reichert (as Michael) look and act like they tumbled out of a "Peter Pan" storybook.

Scott Myers, as Captain Hook, is deliciously dastardly. He and Smee (James Martin) pull off some funny sight gags.

Myers wields a mean right hook but he and his motley crew are no match for that startling crocodile that comes a-looking.

The Lost Boys appear to be straight out of Neverland, and the Indians, ably led by Mason Folse as Tiger Lily, join them in a sticks-clacking, joyous song and dance number called "Ugh-a-Wug."

Tinkerbell, as a dancing spot of light, manages to effectively pull Wendy's hair and scare us to death when she drinks poison.

But we believe! Oh, yes, we do!

Nancy Brokaw is a freelance writer who reviews plays for The Pantagraph.

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