St. Walter School & New American Folk Theatre to Present WENDY & PETER, 3/21-23

St. Walter School & New American Folk Theatre to Present WENDY & PETER, 3/21-23

The New American Folk Theatre and St. Walter School have joined together to present the world premiere of a new musical adaptation of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. The family musical, written and directed by Anthony Whitaker and Jamal Howard, will perform March 21-23 at St. Walter's Peterson Hall. To purchase tickets, call (773) 445-8850.

The school commissioned Whitaker and Howard to write an original musical that was geared towards a family audience and written for young actors. The play's authors based the show on the original play, Peter Pan - the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up and the subsequent novel, Peter Pan and Wendy, while updating the story to a modern time period and a local setting. Unlike Barrie's story, this new version focuses on Wendy's perspective on flying to Neverland to escape her frustrations. Wendy and Peter is appropriate for all ages though best for those five and older.

St. Walter's theatre department was established in 2010 with a production of Godspell, followed by productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and The Wizard of Oz along with a series of after-school dance, music and theatre programs. This year, students have the chance to be the original cast of a completely new musical while allowing the writers to mold and shape the script around their talents.

"We began the writing process during the summer of 2013, but have had the luxury of making changes and adding new songs and characters based on the results of the auditions that were held just before Christmas Break," said playwright and co-director, Anthony Whitaker. "It gives the students an opportunity to be a real part of the creation process. We have a fairy chorus along with Tinkerbell simply because seven really cute second grade girls came to audition."

St. Walter School and New American Folk Theatre seek to expand their partnership in educational outreach by providing a Performing Arts Summer Camp in June 2014, open to any grade school student. "We're always searching for new opportunities to work with the Chicago community and help students engage in the performing arts," playwright and co-director Jamal Howard said, "theatre is a vital piece to the educational puzzle; being a part of a production serves as a crash course in creative problem solving, communication, and teamwork."

Wendy and Peter opens Friday, March 21 at 7:30 p.m. and performs Saturday March 22 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 23 at 2:00 p.m. The musical will run approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes with no intermission.

St. Walter School is located at 11741 S. Western Ave. Chicago, IL 60643. CTA bus #119-Michigan/119th and PACE bus #349-Western stop nearby. There is parking in back as well as street parking. Peterson Hall is in the basement with stair chair access.

St. Walter Catholic School (Producer - Principal, Laura Kennedy) is an integral part of the Parish education ministry serving the children of the Blue Island and Chicago communities. We exist to provide high-quality education and to promote the religious values of the Catholic Church to the children and families of the Parish and its surrounding communities. The school is certified by the Archdiocese of Chicago and is fully recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education. Enrolling approximately 200 students each year, St. Walter features a diverse student body. We genuinely believe that diversity within our school makes us a better and stronger school. We are committed to creating an inclusive, open, and respectful culture and school environment where the abilities of each student are valued, and each student is given every opportunity to achieve his/her potential at every stage of their academic progress.

Playwrights/Directors

Anthony Whitaker (Artistic Director, New American Folk Theatre; Playwright/Director, Wendy and Peter) grew up in Greenville, SC, where, he began performing at age 10. Whitaker performed with the Greenville Little Theatre, The Warehouse Theatre, The Greenville Fine Arts Center, South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and the Singing Christmas Tree. Since leaving South Carolina, he has performed in Atlanta (Center Stage Atlanta and Georgia State University), The Lost Colony in Manteo, NC, The Golden Apple Dinner Theatres in Sarasota and Venice, Florida and many venues in Chicago (The Royal George, Emerald City, Beverly Arts Center, Theatre on the Lake). In addition to performing, Anthony teaches elementary and junior high music in the public and Catholic School systems, and directs productions for various south side schools and the Beverly Arts Center. Anthony wrote, directed, and performed in New American Folk Theatre's debut production, Two from the Trailer Court: Dirty Girl and Salome Goes All the Way!

Jamal Howard (Managing Director, New American Folk Theatre; Playwright/Director, Wendy and Peter) is originally from San Jose, Calif. Jamal grew up performing and training in musical theatre since the age of eight with Children's Musical Theatre San Jose (CMTSJ), Peninsula Youth Theatre, and Bellarmine College Preparatory. He taught jazz classes and workshops and choreographed for CMTSJ's summer camp. Jamal graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a BA in Theatre and Public Relations/Advertising. There he made his directorial debut with Wonder of the World. He directs, choreographs, and teaches jazz/hip-hop dance classes in grade schools in Chicago. Directorial and choreography credits include Quest Theatre's A Christmas Wish, Once on This Island, Cats, Hairspray!, and Little Shop of Horrors. Jamal recently performed with Quest, Emerald City, and Endpoint Theatre Company. Jamal also choreographed and performed in New American Folk Theatre's debut production, Two from the Trailer Court: Dirty Girl and Salome Goes All the Way! and The Marvelous Land of Oz. Jamal is an Associate Company Member at Quest Theatre Ensemble.

About New American Folk Theatre: New American Folk Theatre was founded in October 2011 by collaborators Anthony Whitaker and Jamal Howard. The company is dedicated to creating and curating the American fairytale and the stories that define us. Wendy and Peter is New American folk Theatre's third original musical production. The Marvelous Land of Oz is New American Folk Theatre's second full production. Their first production was the world premiere of Two from the Trailer Court in the fall of 2012. The company continued its first season with the original musical The Marvelous Land of Oz; both productions written by Anthony Whitaker.

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