Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Peter Pan"

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entire contents copyright 2009 by Tony Annicone

"Peter Pan"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Uncommon Theatre Company and Bay Colony Productions' joint show is the musical version of "Peter Pan". It is a musical adaptation of J.M. Barrie's 1904 play "Peter Pan" and his novel "Peter and Wendy". The music is mostly by Mark Charlap, with additional music by Jule Styne, and most of the lyrics by Carolyn Leigh with additional ones by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. The original 1954 Broadway show was adapted and originally directed by Jerome Robbins, and it starred Mary Martin as Peter and Cyril Ritchard as Captain Hook, which won them both the Tony Awards. The show is the story of the never-aging boy who transports the 3 Darling children to the world of Neverland with its Pirates, Lost Boys and Indians. Peter faces many adventures most notably with his nemesis, Captain Hook. Director Bill Cunningham casts 57 performers in his show and achieves marvelous results. Combined with musical director Esther Zabinski and choreographer, Dori Bryan's expertise, this show becomes an excellent example of family theatre at its best. For the older audience members, the show brings back many childhood memories of the Mary Martin television version which was shown every year while the younger members will be enthralled at the magical spell it weaves for them, too. This multitalented cast will capture your hearts with their fantastic rendition and the thunderous applause and spontaneous standing ovation are the true barometer of all their hard work.

Bill does topnotch work with this huge cast, blocking and directing them expertly. His keen eye for detail is apparent throughout the show and his casting of all these roles is marvelous, too. Bill also makes the poignant moments in the show when Peter begins to remember his mother in "Distant Melody" and when he says goodbye to Wendy and the boys before they are captured by the Pirates. Bill isn't only an excellent director but a wonderful performer who recently played Charlie Brown in the group's "You're A Good Man Charlie Brown" in August. Esther's orchestra and musical direction is splendid and the energetic and exuberant songs sound beautiful. She not only conducts her 10 piece orchestra but plays the piano,too. Dori choreographs the show terrifically. Her fabulous dances include tangos, tarantellas, waltzes and many others, executed perfectly by the children who play the Lost Boys, Pirates and Indians. The biggest scene stealer in this show is Daniel Kozar who not only plays Captain Hook and Mr. Darling, but made the multitude of costumes, too. His Captain Hook is splendid as he oozes in and out of the scenes threatening bodily harm to Peter and the boys. Dan leads the pirate band in song and dance in "Hook's Tango", "Hook's Tarantella", "Oh My Mysterious Lady" where he does a Latin dance with Peter Pan disguised as a woman and in "Hook's Waltz" with his men. Dan shines in this role, making a great curmudgeon come alive. Walter Driscoll is a hoot as his sidekick, Smee who constantly gets hit on the head and thrown around the stage. Mike Texieira is the hard working stage manager who keeps things running smoothly and heads the large backstage crew needed to move the sets on and off with ease. Mike also did the lighting design while Mike Duarte designed the set, Ed DiMarzio did the sound and Gail Gilman handles the props. Peter Pan and the 3 Darling children's flying scenes are superb and are expertly executed by Flying by Foy. They are same company who flew Mary Martin in the 1950's as well as current day Broadway musical hits like "Mary Poppins", Billy Elliott" and "Wicked".

Nicole Cayer, who is a pretty brunette in real life, plays the role of Peter Pan excellently. When she is wearing her boyish wig and costume you won't recognize her. Nicole's high energy performance overwhelms the audience and her songs are topnotch, too. From "I've Gotta Crow" to "Neverland" to "I'm Flying" to "I Won't Grow Up", she delivers the goods, capturing the role splendidly with her interactions with the whole cast. She sings "Wendy" while the boys build a house around her. Her gorgeous soprano voice is heard in "Mysterious Lady" and "Distant Melody". The Darling children are excellently played by Kelly Newton, Conor Bunker and Andrew Purdy. Kelly is only an eighth grader but she possesses a lovely singing voice which she uses in "Tender Shepherd" with the 2 boys and her mother in the show as well as in "I'm Flying" and the very lovely ballad "Distant Melody" with Nicole and Carol Kingsbury who makes a marvelous Mrs. Darling with her beautiful voice and wonderful acting skills. Carol also plays the adult Wendy at the end of the show when Peter Pan returns for her to do his spring cleaning while Kelly plays her daughter, Jane. Conor is 14 years old and Andrew is a fifth grader who can sing and dance with their elders splendidly. Conor and Andrew steal many a scene with their wonderful singing and dancing skills. Their props are comical especially Conor's top hat and Andrew's teddy bear. Another energetic performer is Laura Gustafson as Tiger Lily. She doesn't stop dancing during the show in her big dance with Indians and in "Ugg-a-Wugg" with Peter Pan, the Lost Boys and the Indians. Her facial expressions are hilarious. Laura also plays Liza , the maid. Nana, the dog is played by Erin Van Dell and the Crocodile by Katie Armstrong. So for a trip back to the world of Peter Pan, be sure to catch this fabulous show in Foxboro, before it flies out of town.

"Peter Pan" (27 November - 6 December)
BAY COLONY/UNCOMMON THEATRE
Orpheum Theatre, 1 School Street, FOXBORO MA
1(800)838-3006

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