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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

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    Peter Pan at Staller

    J.M. Barrie’s ‘Peter Pan’ is a great story and musical for children. Kids anywhere will always love the classic story about the little boy who won’t grow up. In a way, Peter Pan himself embodies every child’s fantasy: to stay young, to be able to fly, to bravely fight off bandits, and to live in a world unrestricted by parents and rules.

    However, Barrie raises some interesting questions in his piece. Granted, Neverland, (Peter’s home in the wild) is where every child wishes he could go, Peter Pan and his lost boys (they are all orphans) face many trials and tribulations of danger and uncertainty in this exotic, scary place. Even the term ‘Lost Boy’ carries a negative connotation.

    The alternative life for a child, however, one lived in a safe, supervised home is presented as suffocating and inhospitable to ‘fun’ and ‘freedom.’ Where does Barrie stand? Seeing Peter Pan as a more mature thinker can open his eyes to the symbolism of the story and therefore make it fun to watch.

    The Park Avenue Worldwide Group LLC production of ‘Peter Pan,’ with music by Mark Charlap and Jule Styne, and lyrics by Carolyn Leigh, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green, proved itself most popular with the child/family audience at the Staller Center for the Arts’ on Oct. 7 at 7:00 PM. The kids ate it all up; the acrobatics, the oversized stuffed animals, and the harmless, yet catchy musical score.

    As far a musical goes, ‘Peter Pan’ at least had some potential. Songs like ‘Neverland,’ ‘I’m Flying,’ and ‘Wendy’ have the charm of legitimate, good old-fashioned show tunes. However, the version of ‘Neverland’ in this production, performed by Brooke Stone as Peter, was too brassy and silly to be taken seriously both musically and dramatically.

    Some of the actors in this show seemed overly conscious that they were performing children’s theater and appeared to be acting out caricatures, or exaggerated versions of the character. Stone herself seemed to have clown-like, overly exuberant expressions which limited her emotions in the role of Peter.

    Tiger Lily, played by Brooke Robyn Dairman, was an incredible dancer and pronounced her movements well, yet she too had exaggerated facial expressions throughout the performance. However, for a child audience, these expressions are probably most effective and keep children engaged in the performance.

    As for the Darling children, whom Peter invites to Neverland, gave mixed performances. Wendy, played by Mollie Voigt-Welch gave a strong performance and showed potential to be an appealing Broadway ing’eacute;nue. John and Michael, Wendy’s younger brothers, played by Daniel Smith and Michael Kelleher, gave unsteady performances and didn’t seem to be really engaged in their roles. There were times that they seemed to be merely playing a game instead of actually acting out a part on stage.

    ‘Peter Pan’ is a timeless story about a child’s inner battle between freedom and safety. For a child, it is exciting, somewhat scary, and entertaining. For an adult, it is thought provoking, clever, and still entertaining. A really great production of the musical can showcase those qualities and prove to be a worthwhile event.

    This production was scratching at the surface of a piece with potential. With strong actors who have dramatic range, ‘Peter Pan’ could prove itself to be both aesthetically pleasing and philosophical therefore making it a musical for anyone to enjoy.

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