Monday, July 03, 2006

partial review of *Peter Pan*

at CdA Summer Theatre through July 15

Bob Sembiante’s production doesn’t waste time with a lot of talk. Pirates swagger through the aisles, whooping and shouting. During a number called “Ugh-a-wug,” Indians and Lost Boys pound the stage with drumsticks, in unison. And in the title role, there’s an active little pixie. Haley New Ostrander’s performance features robust singing (“I’m Flying”), energetic roostering (“I Gotta Crow”) and sprightly dancing (“Neverland,” and throughout). Ostrander can belt out an inspiring song and appears fearless in mid-air. She may be the smallest of the orphans, but as their captain, the sheer exuberance of her manner commands both their obedience and the audience’s sympathies.

And though the Lost Boys sometimes seem too cutesy, Sembiante keeps a light hand on the gender politics, even when Wendy abruptly starts longing for the woman-boy Peter.

As for ethnic politics, the treatment of Indians in this play is truly offensive — in just the same way that depicting pirates as buffoons is an insult to the reputation of the world’s many upstanding buccaneers. Because of this play’s debasing portrayal of their lifestyle, brigands and bandits everywhere should be outraged.

Troy Wageman manages, though, to strike a nice balance in his dual roles — sneering but not fearsome as Captain Hook (“the swiniest swine in the world”), yet not so cartoonish as to drain all the dignity out of his alter ego, Mr. Darling; he makes a couple of great bass-voiced entrances.

Among the technical elements, the standouts are Michael McGiveney’s sets (the Darlings’ bedroom, the jungle, Maroon Rock, the Lost Boys’ cave, the pirate ship), all rendered with storybook stylization.

*Peter Pan* is a musical patchwork, with two composers, three lyricists, and multiple versions over the years. Musical director Kasey R.T. Graham has reorchestrated some complicated music, and his 12-piece orchestra successfully navigates a variety of styles, from waltzes and tangos to rhythmic kids’ songs, ballads and lullabies.


For a complete version of this review — including comments on James M. Barrie's themes in *Peter Pan* and reactions to this production by various members of Girl Scout Troop 125 — see the July 6 *Pacific Northwest Inlander,* or listen to KPBX that morning at 7:35 am. Think happy thoughts and clap your hands.

1 comment:

  1. I also saw the show on opening night and agree with your review. Haley Ostrander was excellent as Peter Pan!