May 15, 2018
by Alexa Chipman
Fairy dust lifts the Darling children soaring through starry skies to a fantastical realm of pirates and eternal youth. Since 1904, J. M. Barrie’s tale of Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up, has captured the imagination; deep down we want to believe in happy endings. Spreckels’ enthralling production includes midair fight scenes, Tinkerbell rifling through drawers and shifting pictures through practical effects, and elaborate costumes. Director Sheri Lee Miller has honed an effective ensemble for Neverland exploits.
Sarah Wintermeyer’s Peter Pan flies with ease, exhorting Wendy to stand up for herself and crow without hesitation. Their “Distant Melody” lullaby is a moving symphony of delicate compassion. Lucy London’s polished soprano elevates Wendy Darling with glowing enthusiasm until she realizes that Peter Pan cannot care for her in the way she hopes.
Leading the pirate shenanigans as Captain Hook, David L. Yen’s well-placed eye rolls and unnatural terror of the crocodile are operatic in scale. His Mr. Darling adds amusing spice to the early scenes with exaggerated reluctance to take medicine before bed. Nana, the family dog (Andy Templeton), was a favorite with young audience members.
Reinterpreting Tiger Lily as a generic warrior is undermined by the feathers and painted makeup choices, resulting in a concerning depiction of the natives. Michella Snider’s choreography is energetic, with high kicks and grand jetés for the birds contrasting with stomping pirate tarantellas. Marty Pistone’s fight choreography is filled with entertaining threats, back fist strikes and the occasional fake eye poke. The live orchestra, led by Timothy Eisman, is a treat of fanciful trilling and earthy drumming.
Pamela Johnson’s costume designs of gauzy nightgowns, heavily embroidered doublets, and garish pirate coats blend into Elizabeth Bazzano and Eddy Hansen’s sets that range from a pastel Edwardian nursery to the jungle retreat in Neverland with functional mushroom chimneys. Hansen’s lighting design illuminates Peter Pan’s gleeful teasing at Captain Hook’s expense and Tinkerbell’s antics.
Spreckels’ swashbuckling ‘Peter Pan’ will delight any age—just clap your hands to believe, and watch the magic come to life in Rohnert Park.
Presented by Spreckels Theatre Company through May 20, 2018
Thur/Fri/Sat at 7:00pm, Sat/Sun at 1:00pm
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