BWW Reviews: Pixie Dust Fuels Hale Center Theater's PETER PAN to Innovative Enchantment

May 16
9:39 PM 2014
BWW Reviews: Pixie Dust Fuels Hale Center Theater's PETER PAN to Innovative Enchantment

At intermission, a young boy quietly steps on the Hale Center Theater Orem stage as others cross the area to the lobby. He scoops up some of the residue pixie dust from the floor after Peter Pan has sprinkled it on the Darling children. But instead of filling his pockets, the youngster flings the glittering particles into the air above him, stretches out his arms and awaits flight.

There is a singular magic to "Peter Pan," and HCTO captures all of the musical's charms. And each audience member also longs to be whisked away to Neverland. This fairy-dusted production sparkles - and furthers the company's reputation for innovative excellence.

"Peter Pan" boasts a charming, robust Peter in Josh Valdez, and a deliciously dastardly Captain Hook in Ben Henderson. The ensemble players seamlessly take on multiple roles - Lost Boys become pirates and then pirates become Indians and then the Indians become mermaids. And these mermaids are hysterical, scooting across the stage in office chairs obscured by their large fins.

What makes the HCTO production unique is that this "Peter Pan" is no cookie cutter staging. There is nothing modern aerial machinery to elevate Peter and the Darlings to sky-scraping heights, so none of the actors is air-borne.

Dave Tinney, the resourceful director-choreographer whose amazing creative talents are evident here, blurs the lines between reality and make-believe in ways that would be dead-wrong to reveal here. But it works - beautifully.

This bit of reimagining the material involves combining steampunk sensibility with tinges of British pantomime. Just don't confuse pantomime with mime. Pantomime has enthralled audiences since its Victorian beginnings and involves broad characterizations of music hall-style comedy.

The costume design of MaryAnn Hil, enhanced by the hair and make-up of Janna Larsen, is whimsical and inventive. Ditto the scenic design by Bobby Swenson. Each element works harmoniously to enhance the production's enchantments.

Tinney has led the full cast and crew to embrace the source material in delightful ways to make "Peter Pan" fresh and vivid. Peter champions individuality and adventure. And it's thrilling to hear him proclaim, "I am youth, I am joy, I am freedom!"

Pictured: Josh Valdez (Peter), Marissa Smith (Wendy) and Ben Henderson (Captain Hook).

Salt Lake City THEATER Stories | Shows

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Blair Howell Blair Howell's career is in the professional publishing arena (for more years than he cares to remember), with a longstanding interest in theater. He found it to be great fun to live in New Canaan, Connecticut, with easy access to the Great White Way. But now, Blair lives in Salt Lake City (a long, not interesting story). The much-lamented move has allowed him to be more active in regional theater. He now covers theater and the arts for the Deseret News, Utah's oldest, continuously-published metro daily newspaper, and has written for various theater-related national magazines and websites.


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