I belong to the generation of Americans who were treated, as children, to a very extraordinary television event in 1955, ’56 and ’60 – Mary Martin in “Peter Pan”! For me, it was quite a memorable occasion – I loved the fantastic story, I believed I would very much like to fly, and I might say that I became a fledgling performer due to the show’s wonderful songs – “I Won’t Grow Up”, “I’m Flying'” and “I Gotta Crow” – which I executed regularly for a time after the show had run. It left me with a great appreciation of the show, which I found was vividly renewed by attending B&B’s outstanding current production of Peter Pan.
Choreographer Ron Morgan and Director Eddie Curry have recreated all the fun and magic and memory of the original – and the result is a well-chosen selection for the “family show” offering in B&B’s 2015 season. The audience was filled with plenty of little new-believers – and the cast and technical crew provided plenty of inspired portrayals and effects to suit their fascination. (On Tinker Bell’s first appearance – as her greenly lit embodiment flitted about onstage – a sweet young voice exclaimed out loud – “WHAT is THAT?” – to everyone’s delight.)
The role of Peter Pan is filled by B&B newcomer Phebe Taylor. She makes an excellent Pan – full of energy, strongly voiced, fittingly able to do all of Peter’s flying tricks and attitudes; Ms. Taylor always has just the right way about her to help us believe. The three Darling children, led by talented B&B regular Kennedy Martin as Wendy, all do first-rate work. Ethan Gold is solid as John Darling and first grader Holland Barnes does himself proud as little Michael. Suzanne Stark gives her lovely singing voice to us as their mother, Mrs. Darling.
Of course there are also Lost Boys, Pirates and Indians to contend with. Simon Barnes, Eric Best, Colin McCabe, William Main, Miles Morey, Abraham Rittenhouse, Danny Staton and Samuel McKanney cavort as the troupe of Pan’s motherless boys. As Pirates, Michael Davis, Doug King, John Vessels and A.J. Morrison drip with amusing evil – led by the rubber-faced Darrin Murrell as a lively Mr. Smee. Dancers Allyson Hankins, Danielle Carnagua, Alexandra Young and Amanda Lehman provide the Indian roles – skillfully led by the very talented Sally Scharbrough as Tiger Lily.
The one and only Jeff Stockberger takes the role of Captain Hook, a part I believe he was born to play. Stockberger provides a maximized performance as the ridiculous, droll, ludicrous and whimsical sea-farer. He has us in his pocket from his first entrance, and seems to get better and funnier as the show progresses.
Musical Director Terry Woods leads his smartly compact B&B band through their paces, and costumes by Jill Kelly are colorful and appropriate. The action is played on Michael Layton’s fine set design, with lights by Ryan Koharchik that add to the magic. And Troy Trinkle’s aerial apparatus and technical instruction give us the thrill of seeing the players fly around the stage.
Bottom line: Beef and Boards’ Peter Pan is pure fun. Though the show is certainly geared toward a young audience, there is plenty to please all family members and no one goes away with anything except a feeling of having been magically entertained.
Peter Pan continues through July 3rd. You can find out more about the schedule and reserve your tickets by calling the Box Office at (317) 872-9664, or by going to the website at http://www.beefandboards.com.
* – Photos by Julie Curry