Review: ‘Peter Pan and Wendy’ at Creative Cauldron

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Children’s theatre is almost always adorable but not necessarily a place where you will see fantastic performances. Peter Pan and Wendy at Creative Cauldron succeeds in telling the classic story of Peter Pan and his Lost Boys with lots of great acting moments, delightful song and dance numbers, and heartwarming cuteness.   

Aashna Kapur as Wendy and Gabriela Simmons Robles as Peter Pan. Photo Credit: Keith Waters/Kx Photography.
Aashna Kapur as Wendy and Gabriela Simmons Robles as Peter Pan. Photo Credit: Keith Waters/Kx Photography.

Co-Directors Laura Connors Hull and Ellen Selby also adapted the original story, working in concert with Music Director Matt Conner and Lyricist Stephen Gregory Smith to develop a fun musical to accommodate a large and talented cast of young actors.

The story begins with a prologue delivered by the Star Nebula (Morgan Beltson, Jaimie Friedlander, Lily Kales, Mai Gabra, Corine Levitt, Carmen Ortiz, Aspen Prole, Dafi Tala-Wootton, Annabelle Tuss and Ariana Vargas), swirling around the stage with flickering lights on their fingers. Immediately following the prologue the actors brought in small set pieces and set up The Darling Household.

All of the scenes set in the real world are told through the use of puppetry. While most of The Darling family are child actors (Mrs. Darling- Katrina Ives, Wendy- Aashna Kapur, John- Owen Thiebert, Michael- Emerson Thiebert, and Nana- Ariana Vargas), Mr. Darling is played professionally by Will Stevenson, who later became Captain Hook. Stevenson brought even more gravitas to two roles that already lend themselves to larger than life portrayals.

Shortly after Wendy, John, and Michael fall asleep, Peter Pan (Gabriella Simmons-Robles) jumps through the window to try and locate his missing shadow. Peter convinces the Darling children to follow him to Neverland, and after flying through the Star Nebula, they eschew their puppets and become live-action actors in Neverland.

The Lost Boys are the next group we meet. Miri Brooke, Ava Feldstein, Jared Tulodo, Enola Danewitz, Lorien Jackson and Mira Sears all committed to their roles in this sweet and ragtag bunch. My personal favorite is Tulodo as Slightly, who delivered most of the evening’s zingers with enviable comedic timing.

No trip to Neverland is complete without pirates! Libby Brooke, Abby Fred, Ben Graham, Elizabeth Templar, Anna Sophia Eppler, Luke Hawken, and Sofia Marcus do a wonderful job singing and dancing and being enthusiastically and gleefully malicious through their song “Pirates Life.” Later, they’re joined by Smee (E. Augustus Knapp) and Captain Hook. Knapp is the other adult actor in the troupe and plays Smee as sweet and adorably dedicated.

Will Stevenson as Captain Hook and E. Augustus Knapp as Smee. Photo Credit: Keith Waters/Kx Photography.
Will Stevenson as Captain Hook and E. Augustus Knapp as Smee. Photo Credit: Keith Waters/Kx Photography.

The pirates are interrupted by the most talented crocodile ever to antagonize the seven seas. Arianna Vargas and Constance Meade play the crocodile’s front and back halves and easily provide the most entertaining singing and dancing with their solo (duet?) performance of “Clock in the Crock.”

The Lost Boys quickly accept Wendy as their surrogate mother, and make quick work of building her a house during “Pretty House.”

In fact, the only group in Neverland who doesn’t seem to like Wendy are the mermaids (Sophia Schmittel, Carmen Ortiz, Corinne Levitt, Lilly Kale, and Annabelle Tuss) who sit on a rock in the Lagoon and scheme about what to do to terrorize Wendy. They decide to splash her with their fins and then quickly swim away when they hear the pirates arriving to maroon the leader of the Warriors- Tiger Lily (Morgan Beltson). She’s quickly saved by the rest of her Warriors (Jaime Friedlander, Mai Gabra, Aspen Prole, and Safa Tala-Woolton) and Peter Pan.

The rest of the story moves at lightning speed but to avoid further spoiling the plot, I’ll say that my favorite song from the musical, “Keep the Beat,” is still stuck in my head.

The child actors were all very sincere and in character throughout the evening. The adult actors heightened the entire experience and kept their scenes grounded.

With so many great acting moments, it is sometimes hard to remember that some of these children haven’t acted before. If you’re looking for a fun night and a great retelling of a classic story, take the first star on the right and straight on till morning, and head over to Creative Cauldron’s Peter Pan and Wendy. It’s a very intimate venue so make sure you get your tickets early!

Running Time: One hour and 30 minutes, with no intermission.

Peter Pan and Wendy plays through November 18, 2018, at Creative Cauldron, 410 S Maple Ave, Falls Church, Virginia 22046. Tickets are available at the door or online.

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