‘Peter Pan’ at The Arlington Players

The Arlington Players presents Peter Pan, based on the play by Sir J.M. Barrie, with music by Morris (Moose) Charlap and additional music by Jule Styne,with lyrics by Carolyn Leigh and additional lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Christopher Smith directs and choreographs this production.

Peter Pan (Kelsey Meiklejohn) and the Lost Boys. Photo by Peter Hill.
Peter Pan (Kelsey Meiklejohn) and the Lost Boys. Photo by Peter Hill.

Scenic Designer Scott Stark, alongside master carpenter Tim Wickberg and an exhaustive team of painters and crew, did a wonderful job with the set dressings and props. There are three main sets: the Darling family nursery, Neverland, and aboard the Jolly Roger pirate ship. My favorite setting was the colorful nursery, which centered around  a large window that opened into the starry night sky. Transitions between these settings were quick and seamless, which was pretty impressive considering their large size and structures.

A live orchestra, directed by Matthew Adam Scarborough and supervised by John-Michael d’Haviland, provide music for this production, and they do a great job. The actors were mic’d so as not to be drowned out by the instruments, and while things went smoothly for the most part, there were unfortunately some instances of mic popping and feedback during this performance.

Sound Designer Drew Moberley and Lighting Designer Ryan Desmond use a number of effects to enhance the atmosphere. The most memorable of this would be Tinkerbell, who was made up of nothing but a green laser and some tinkling charms, yet from those elements working together became a solid character. Another memorable technical element is the use of fog– it rolls across the floor of the stage to represent clouds as the characters fly through the night sky, and the effect is beautiful. The characters flying through the air is also a lot of fun to see, especially for the younger audience members!

Costume Designers Barbara Esquibel, Joan Lada, and Kevin Lane stay true to what you would expect in a production of Peter Pan; nightgowns, pirate clothing, face-paint for the Indians, and the famous leafy green leotard for Peter. My favorite costume was that of the Alligator (Nolan Hughes), who slid across the stage belly-down on a skateboard and made the audience break out in laughter.

Lured there by the nightly bedtime stories, Peter Pan (a lively performance by Kelsey Meiklejohn) is caught searching for his lost shadow in the Darling nursery by the sweet, nurturing young Wendy (Haley Shea). Spunky, energetic, and a mischievous, the overexcited Peter Pan sings the upbeat number “I Gotta Crow” after Wendy helps him sew his shadow back on. The two begin to talk about Peter’s home called Neverland – a place where magic and dreams reign supreme and no one ever grows up! Wendy and her brothers Michael (Jack Kearney) and John (Stuart Orloff) decide to follow Peter back to Neverland in the popular number “I’m Flying.” An adventurous journey of a lifetime awaits them in Neverland, including the antics of the villainous Captain Hook and his bumbling band of pirates, a rambunctious gang of Lost Boys, and an intimidating Indian tribe!

Captain Hook (Brian M. Lyons-Burke) and the Pirates. Photo by Peter Hill.
L to R: Captain Hook (Brian M. Lyons-Burke) and the Pirates. Photo by Peter Hill.

Brian M. Lyons-Burke is fantastic as Captain Hook! His hilarious number “Hook’s Tango” captivates, and his interaction with Peter is entertaining as well, particularly in the song “Oh, My Mysterious Lady,” where Peter teases Hook by disguising himself as a lovely woman (this silly number was particularly popular with the younger audience members).

There are also a lot of great group choreography numbers, with my favorites being “I Won’t Grow Up” and “Ugh-A-Wug.” Roxanne Matten proves to be a talented dancer as Tiger Lily, and is graceful and poised in the number “Indian Dance.” While most of the ensemble is made up of younger actors who are still honing their craft, the overall quality of their performances is very impressive! The cast works well together, which I see as a result of solid direction and an encouraging, uplifting atmosphere.

Peter Pan (Kelsey Meiklejohn) and the Darlings. Photo by Peter Hill.
Peter Pan (Kelsey Meiklejohn) and the Darlings. Photo by Peter Hill.

The Arlington Players’ production of Peter Pan is packed full of adventures that the whole family can enjoy together. Catch a show before Peter flies back to Neverland!

Running Time: About 2 hours, including one 15-minute intermission.

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Peter Pan plays through April 25, 2015 at The Arlington Players performing at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center – 3501 Second South Street, in Arlington, VA. Purchase your tickets at the door or online.

RATING: FOUR-AND-A-HALF-STARS8.gif


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