The third show of Theatre by the Sea's 76th season is the musical version of "Peter Pan". It is a musical adaptation of J.M. Barrie's 1904 play "Peter Pan" and his own novel of it,"Peter and Wendy". The music is mostly by Mark Charlap, with additional music by Jule Styne, and most of the lyrics are by Carolyn Leigh, with additional lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, adapted and originally directed by Jerome Robbins. The original 1954 Broadway show starred Mary Martin as Peter and Cyril Ritchard as Captain Hook where they both won Tony Awards. The show is the story of the never-aging boy who transports the three Darling children to the land of Neverland with its Pirates, Lost Boys and Indians. Peter faces many adventures most notably with his nemesis, Captain Hook. Director Gary John LaRosa casts 28 performers in his show with 8 of them children. The choreography by Ann Presley is splendid as is the music direction by Aaron McAllister. For the older audience members it will bring back many childhood memories of the Mary Martin television version shown every year on NBC while the younger members will be enthralled at the magical spell it weaves for them, too. This very talented cast will capture your hearts with their excellent rendition and the thunderous applause and standing ovation are the true barometer of all their hard work. Bravo!
Owner and producer Bill Hanney, Producing Artistic Director Amiee Turner and Managing producer Joel Kipper once again keep the production values high with their outstanding staff. Gary John does an excellent job with this huge cast, blocking and directing them expertly. His keen eye is apparent throughout the show and his casting of all the roles is splendid, too. Gary John also has some 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. He also makes sure the double entendre lines get their due for the adult crowd to enjoy the merriment as well as the children, too. As Gary John says "the magic of the play resides in the way Peter helps us to reconnect with the joys of youth. The choreography by Ann is wonderful and includes many different dances such as tangos, tarantellas, waltzes and many others which are executed perfectly by the children and adults as the Lost Boys, Indians and Pirates. I have reviewed Gary John's direction/choreography at TBTS in 2002 with "Smokey Joe's Cafe" and in 2003 with "I Love You Your Perfect, Now Change" and "Always, Patsy Cline" as well as "La Cage Aux Folles" at Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Bridgeport,CT the same year. He always does a fabulous job with his shows no matter the size of the cast. Aaron not only plays the lead keyboards for the show but conducts the 8 piece orchestra.( Andrew Smithson who plays second keyboards for the show, plays the piano in the cabaret with Mike Sartini on drums.) Stage manager Caroline Listul handles the technical aspects of the show and with her crew. Costumes are by Jeff Shearer while the lighting is by Aaron Meadow and sound by Eileen Smitheimer. Peter Pan and the 3 Darling children flying scenes are superb and are flawlessly done. When the walls part as they fly off for Neverland in the starlit sky, it sends chills up your spine.
Cary Michele Miller who is a gorgeous auburn haired girl in real life, plays the role of Peter Pan beautifully. When she is wearing her boyish style hair and costume, you won't be able to recognize her. Cary's high energy performance overwhelms the audience and her songs are fantastic, too. From "I've Gotta Crow" to "Neverland" to "I'm Flying" to "Wendy" to "I Won't Grow Up", she delivers the goods with her strong singing voice. Cary captures the role perfectly with her interactions with the whole cast and when she begs the audience to save Tinkerbell's life with their applause, you really believe in the magic Peter is begging for. She is dynamite in her athletic flying scenes and as she bounds around the stage with the boys and Indians as well as fighting with Hook and the pirates. The biggest scene stealer in this show is Peter S. Adams who not only plays Captain Hook but Mr. Darling, too. I first reviewed Peter as the Engineer in "Miss Saigon" at Turtle Lane in 2005 and most recently in "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" as the Governor this past April at Foothills Theatre and he always does an excellent job with any role he plays. His Captain Hook is marvelous as he oozes in and out of the scenes threatening bodily harm to Peter Pan and the boys while also threatening his men with his hook. Peter as Hook leads the pirate band in song and dance in "Pirate March", "A Princely Scheme" where they do a tango,(with Nate Suggs using the tom toms as boobs in this number. He also does "Belle" in the cabaret while imitating the numerous voices in the original song which is hilarious.) "Another Princely Scheme" where they do the tarantella and in "Hook's Waltz" with his men. Peter shines in this role with his terrific voice and makes a great curmudgeon come to life in this show. Peter is also funny as the exasperated Mr. Darling who tricks Michael into taking the bitter tasting medicine. (A funny moment occurred when one of the steps on the ship broke when Brian Bailey as Starkey broke thru it and Peter didn't miss a beat when his leg got caught, too. Brian usually chews the scenery in his madcap roles not breaking it. Brian uses his fabulous voice in "Broadway Baby" in the cabaret. He will be going out on the National tour with "Cats" this fall) Ron Sarro is a hoot as his sidekick, Smee who gets beaten up and thrown around during this show with much laughter from the audience.(He does an excellent rendition of "If I Were a Rich Man" in the cabaret.)
The Darling children are wonderfully played by Anna Kimmel, Nicholas Mercurio and Dylan Temel. Wendy is played by Anna who recently graduated from Elon University. she possesses a gorgeous singing voice which she uses in "Tender Shepherd" with the two boys and her mother in the show. She also sings "I'm Flying" with the 2 boys and the lovely ballad "Distant Melody" with Peter and Rebecca Barko who makes a splendid Mrs. Darling with her pretty voice and wonderful acting skills. Nicholas is only a eighth grader and Dylan is only 8 years who can sing and dance with their elders wonderfully. Nick is as cute as a button,stealing many a scene with his teddy bear tight in his hand. Another invigorating performer is Krystina Almaguer as Tiger Lily. She doesn't stop dancing during the show in her big dance with the Indians and in "Ugg-a-Wugg" with Peter Pan, the Lost Boys and the Indians. She also does the reprise of "I've Gotta Crow" with Peter and them where she learns how to crow. (In cabaret she sings a funny song about coloring her hair blue.) Nana, the St. Bernard dog and children's nurse is played by Matthew Wagner who played Moose in "Crazy For You" (as he exits in the closing scene with Dylan on his back, the audience roared with laughter as the little boy was precariously balanced on Matt's back) and the Crocodile by Nick Nelson who slithers in and out of scenes wonderfully . So for a trip back to the timeless Neverland and the world of Peter Pan, be sure to catch this fabulous show at TBTS before Peter Pan flies out of town. It is a show for audiences of all ages from the very young to the young at heart.(Opening night performance had a six year old and a 98 year old in the crowd.) Press night is not complete without the marvelous and sumptuous food prepared by chef Duane Crowe and his lovely wife, Karleen. The delicacies this time included pasta salad, salad, carrot cake with frosting and huge strawberries. Sabrina Blaze once again dazzles the patrons at the after the show Cabaret where she tells many risque jokes and sings "Cabaret", "When You're Good to Mama" and "Rollin on the River".Other topnotch performers from the show in the cabaret included Laura Graham and Kari Floberg doing "You've Got a Friend", Taavon Gamble singing the powerful "I'll Be Here", Jose Luaces "I Love Myself" and the trio of Jessica Osbourne, Richard Cerato and Matthew Meigs on "Louder".