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Monday, December 6, 2010

Peter Pan

Peter Pan at South Coast Performing Arts Center

Please, do yourself a favor and go see this play (take a quick peek at the video link above).  I saw it with a friend this weekend and it was fabulous! They are starting to blur the lines between film and theater with this one.  It was held in a tent that seats just over 1300 people, with part of the tent, an area equivalent to the size of 3 IMAX theaters, serving as a 360 degree screen on which the background was projected.  There are 12 projectors each responsible for 30 degrees of the scene.  They blended some amazing CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) with the action on the stage, or, in this case, over the stage!    :-)    They were able to have 5 people in the air at a time and it all combined to make you believe they were really flying, or swimming, depending on the scene.  The photos here have been taken from the Peter Pan Souvenir Program I purchased as they do not allow any photography, which I understand, but am sad I couldn't share some of the best parts of the show.  (Copyright to all photos in this particular post belong to them.)  Actually, you would need video to really capture the amazing effects they were able to create, again, check out the link to the video promotion above.  You actually felt as if you were flying or swimming right along with them.

Bottom is the round stage, the dark band above it is the audience and
the blue, underwater scene above is a 360 degree underwater computer
generated image that you "move" through with the action in the play.

It began it's run a little over a year ago, summer of 2009, in London and arrived here from San Francisco.  It is currently playing in Costa Mesa at the South Coast Performing Arts Center and will be traveling on to Atlanta and Chicago after the beginning of the new year.

My friend and I started the day with a "tour" called Into Neverland given by Ian Street, who played Curly, one of the Lost Boys from the play, and another member of the crew and I deeply regret that I cannot recall his name.  They were both extremely personable, informative and entertaining. They provided a lot of behind the scenes information.  I would strongly suggest you take advantage of this presentation if you possibly can.  It really added to the whole experience.  They provided a wealth of information regarding the history, statistics and inside stories that helped make a great play even more enjoyable.  Ian also shared that the crew had created an alternative Peter Pan "horror" show and posted it on YouTube.

Curly is the cute blond, second from the left.

We had about an hour between the "tour" and the time the play actually started, so we grabbed a cup of hot cocoa while we waited and just chatted away until it was time to head into the tent for the performance.

It would be extraordinarily difficult to describe the wonderful job they did with the CGI.  When the children were flying away from their home, you were flying right along with them over the city, between the spans on the bridges, past great domed buildings and right through the clouds.  And when they dove into the sea, you went right down along with them, with soap bubbles rising in the air from the middle of the stage adding even more to the feeling you were under water, as the scenery around you moved you through the sea.  The mermaids were breathtaking to watch as they seemingly swam along on fabric that held them suspended above the ocean floor.  No wires holding them up, they totally depended on the strength of the fabric and their own body strength to keep them from falling to the stage.

But, I have to say, my favorite character by far was Tinkerbell, who was superbly played by Emily Yetter for the performance we saw.  What a naughty, feisty, ornery and completely adorable little fairy she was!  She played the part so convincingly that it was hard to remember it was not a young child we were watching.  Her mannerisms and the faces she made were exactly those of a child.  She threw the most amazing little fits shaking her head with her little cheeks all puffed out, fists waving in the air!  And I was mesmerized by the way they had managed to get lights in her hair and costume.

Peter Pan, the eternal, impish little boy, was played by Nate Fallows and he did a great job with his performance.  During the scene where Tink was dying he explained that in order for her to live, everyone had to softly say they believe in fairies.  I wasn't sure if we were really supposed to be saying it out loud, but I certainly felt that audience participation would have been very much appreciated at that point.  I know I felt very much compelled to join in to save Tink!

Jonathan Hyde did double duty as Mr. Darling and as Captain Hook and he played both parts very well.

The pirates were a fierce bunch, but in the end, were, of course, no match for Peter and the Lost Boys.

The puppets were made of things that one would find in a nursery.  The crocodile was made of coat hangers and, I believe, clothespins.  He had a terribly fierce roar as he is demonstrating in the photo above.  He leaned out over the audience and bellowed out at them.  It is quite understandable that Captain Hook would be so terrified of him.  There was also an ostrich made of among other things, a rugby football and a badminton shuttlecock.  He was so cute, I wish I had a picture of him, but you can catch glimpses of him in the promotion video.

And poor old Nana.  Nana was a very convincing and compelling dog.  You almost didn't notice the man behind her giving life to her actions.  When Mr. Darling got upset with her, you could feel her sadness and dismay.  The puppeteer did a fantastic job of bringing her to life while becoming almost "invisible" himself.

All of the cast did a great job and brought everyone to their feet at the end.  It was one of the best performances I have seen in a while.  It was a truly enjoyable and memorable performance.

Have you forgotten the story?  Is it perhaps time for a refresher?  If so, here is a link to, where you can subscribe for free to this or any of a number of other books.  They deliver portions of the book to your email so you can read it a little at a time.  I think it is time for me to reread it and I have subscribed and read the first 4 installments already.  I hope you revisit this story and enjoy it again!

So . . . tell me, . . . do you believe?

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