BWW Reviews: Carly Linehan Soars in ENCORE's PETER PAN at the Warner Grand in San Pedro
In 2007, Marco and Summer Dey Cacciagioni brought their dream to life and created a non-profit Children's Theatre Company called ENCORE, which stands for Educating the Next Class of Rising Entertainers. And what a success story they have created given the talent and camaraderie I saw onstage tonight with a cast of over 100 performers of all ages in PETER PAN at the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro.
Carly Linehan takes charge of the stage from the moment she flies onstage as Peter, enthralling the audience with her high-spirited portrayal of the boy who refuses to grow up. She made it look terribly easy to fly, sing, and throw fairy dust without a care in the world. With her boyish charm and mannerisms, Linehan truly will have you believing you are watching a young boy in the throes of childhood joy and freedom throughout the show. This is the second time Linehan has played the role and like Peter, I know she wishes she would never group up so that she can play this role forever!
Michael Sandidge is the villainous Captain Hook, full of swagger, evil laughter, and a smile that would charm the purest of heart to follow him into dastardly deeds. With so many children in the audience, Sandidge skillfully generated just the right amount of menace tinged with a great deal of humor, making him not too scary for the many youngsters in the audience and engaging enough to keep adults drawn into his portrayal.. Congrats to Cheryl Ortiz for his spot-on costume as well as all the others created for the large cast.
There were many other standouts in the cast including cute pixie Chloe Sohngen as the bespeckled, dancing with attitude Tinker Bell, Lexi Jones as the ever-supportive Wendy, Matthew D'Anna as top hat wearing older brother John, and Craig Wong at teddy bear hugging brother Michael. All four of these young actors were having the time of their lives flying across the stage! And Michael Ghekiere steals every scene as Hook's pirate sidekick Smee, especially when he tries to pass himself off as a lost boy to the Darlings at the end of the play.
One of the musical highlights was the show-stopping drum beat enhanced "Ugh-a-Wug" number featuring Linehan and the very talentEd Mackenzie Hamilton as Tiger Lily along with her drumstick toting band of Indians. Excellent choreography by Jennifer Di Benedetto and Jessica Porter, brilliantly executed by everyone! Ms. DiBenedetto also plays Mrs. Darling, proving herself a lovely singer in the opening lullaby "Tender Shepherd."
Special congratulations to the youngest members of the cast playing the Lost Boys and Indians for their ability to stay in character and share the joy of performing with the audience. It was difficult to take my eyes off the two youngest Indians whenever they appeared onstage, such was their level of cuteness.
ENCORE's lovely painted show title scrim and set pieces all work well to convey both the Darling children's bedroom and mystical Neverland. Loved the scene change in which Tinker Bell, in her laser-light form, flitted around the stage as the set was being changed. Definitely a crowd pleasing moment! And kudos to the technical team for making flying look so easy, which I am sure it is not.
It should be noted that most roles are double or triple cast and a breakdown of who appears in each role at each performance does not appear in the program or at the theater. You can, however, find a cast breakdown by performance on the ENCORE website.
Find out more about ENCORE and purchase tickets to PETER PAN by visiting their website at www.encoreentertainers.org. Grab the kids and head down to the Warner Grand this weekend and experience the magic that is PETER PAN.
Encore Entertainers presents PETER PAN, starring Carly Linehan. Performances on Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm through Jan. 18, with Sunday performances at 2pm on January 12 and 6:30pm on January 19 at the Warner Grand Theater, 478 W. Sixth St., San Pedro. Tickets are $27, $22 for seniors and children. More information by calling 310-896-6459 or visiting www.EncoreEntertainers.org.
Carly Linehan takes off as Peter Pan
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