Peter Pan, the story about a boy who refuses to grow up, is an adventure for children and adults, as those involved in the Northern Lights Junior Theatre can testify. The musical, staged at Juneau Douglas High School, opens Friday at 7 p.m. Shows continue on Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m. and on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Peter Pan, played by Elias Antaya, really does fly. Fairy dust and good thoughts help the Darling children get off the ground as well. Peter takes Wendy (Lydia Smith), John (Jonathan Deats), and Michael (Dessa Gerger) to Neverland to live with the Lost Boys, but look out: There are pirates and Indians and a crocodile with a thirst for Captain Hook.
To get to Neverland, Peter tells children to head toward the “second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning.” Peter and the Darling family actually get to Neverland via the commitment of a team of dads on flylines at one side of the stage, operating highly specialized equipment rented from Foy, the only company authorized to fly actors in any production of Peter Pan. An engineer flew in to Juneau to set up the equipment and help the children and dads become familiar with the aerial lifts off the stage deck. Foy engineer Geddy Webb departed with the hope that none of the flying moments in the production end up on You Tube linked to the key word “disaster.” George Watt, father of Ashleigh who plays Mrs. Darling, is in the wings, making sure all flights are smooth.
Ron Antaya, father of Peter Pan, designed and built the pirate ship any young person only dreams about — the Jolly Roger has a mast, a poop deck and a plank. Stewart Gerger, father of Michael Darling, designed and painted the magical trees of Neverland. Each 10-foot high plant is unique and even has a name, which helps with scene shifts. Captain Hook ‘s dad, Tony Newman, added his artistic touches through the scenes.
Janice Hurley, choreographer, once upon a time played the role of Liza in “Peter Pan.” As the cast of 44 pirates and magical beasts and Lost Boys and braves go round and round in Neverland, Hurley has staged dances and movement, taking the cast out of reality and into the imagination of youth. Captain Hook (Robert Newman) prances in front as his pirate crew dance a tango, kinda. Tiger Lily (Leah Edwards) leads her tribe in a complex rhythm of drumming and dance. The Lost Boys, led by Slightly (Rebekah Schenedky), promise sincerely with a dance and song to “Never Grow Up.” If only.
This is not Disney, but real children at play in a world created by the words of J. Barrie, transformed into a playland by dedicated parents. The play is appropriate for all ages. Tickets are available at Northern Lights Junior Theatre’s website, www.nljtheatre.org, and at the door.