‘Peter Pan’ at Upper Room Theatre Ministry by Keegan Collins

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Upper Room Theatre presents Peter Pan, based on J.M. Barrie’s play of the same name. With lyrics by Carolyn Leigh, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green and music by Morris Charlap and Julie Styne, Peter Pan is a family-friendly adventure that will make you want to close your eyes and go to Neverland too.

Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. Photo by Rich Zavadowski.
Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. Photo by Rich Zavadowski.

Set director Pat Haggerty brought Neverland to life with intricately painted backdrops and a fanciful attention to detail on this island where every moon is full. CJ Kardaras’s costume complimented the set and the actors, letting you see that the ensembles were indeed but giving each character a distinct feel.

Clare Galvin (Peter Pan) brought an unbridled energy to her role that was enlivening. Her excitement for the role made clear the sheer joy that Peter feels in being a child. You could see the wonder on his face at each new adventure. It was truly a pleasure to hear her sing Never Never Land—her voice is beautiful, but more importantly she showed us the oft forgotten soft side of Peter and the fact that there is at least one thing that he loves more than himself. Supporting the conceited yet caring Peter were the Lost Boys, each actor creating a very distinct personality for their characters in spite of having few lines with which to do so. I would be remiss if I did not mention Tyler Williams’s performance as Slightly, Peter’s de facto second-in-command; his childlike innocence shone through and Williams proved his chops as an actor as Slightly says goodbye to Peter—your heart is bound to ache for him while you feel joy for his next great adventure.

The Darlings were for the most part somewhat lackluster background characters, but Wendy (Jeanne Myers) was a wonder-filled, tender-hearted delight to watch on stage.

Hook (Gabe Duda), Smee (Jacob Lash), and the rest of their dastardly crew bring a great deal of comedic talent to the show. Duda’s caricature was that of not just an old man, but of a man whose childhood was stolen from him and who is desperately trying to relive the missing portion of his life; I couldn’t help but feel a sense of humorous pity for this grown up child.

Director Rob Tessier wanted the show to be big, and to that end he brought in ZFX Inc., the same company that provided flying effects for shows like the Broadway production of Wicked. The professional nature of the flight was evident in every scene, and though the actors had only a week to work with it they made it look as though it was old hat for them, almost as natural as it was for Pan.

Peter Pan and Captain Hook. Photo by Rob Tessier.
Peter Pan and Captain Hook. Photo by Rob Tessier.

Despite the show’s many positives, there were several audio issues and it was generally hard to understand the actors through the microphones’ poor quality. This was, for the most part, not a huge issue, but there were many a time when I was straining—and failing—to hear the lyrics of a song over the orchestra or the footsteps of the actors.

All in all, Peter Pan is a great take on an old classic and it’s a must-see for families young, old, and in between.

Running Time: two hours and 15 minutes, with one 15 minute intermission.

Peter Pan plays through July 19, 2015 at Upper Room Theatre—9310 Stonewall Road, in Manassas, VA. For tickets, purchase them online.

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