BWW Review: LOST GIRL at Des Moines Young Artist Theatre: A Journey of Growing Up
Growing up can be hard. We try to do everything we can to stop it. We try to change our appearance or even hold on to a memory. What makes it difficult, is when they are memories we don't want to, or can't let go of. Kimberly Belflower's "Lost Girl," currently playing at Des Moines Young Artists' Theatre, allows us to look at letting go through the eyes of a familiar character. By doing this, it allows us as an audience to take a journey and reflect on the things we hold onto, and the impact they have.
Who is this familiar character that takes us on this journey? It's none other than Wendy from the story of "Peter Pan". You may ask how she is lost? She did come home at the end of the story. Physically, she is not lost, but she is lost mentally. When the play starts we see she has been holding onto the memory of Peter Pan, wishing she could see him again, because he has something of hers. As the play continues on we find out it was her kiss. The journey that follows tells us the story of what happened to Wendy, her family, and the lost boys after they came back. The twist and turns on the journey make for a memorable night of theatre.
As I walked into the auditorium, David VanCleave's scenic design grabbed my attention. I loved seeing all the different windows surrounding the stage. It played well into the idea that we are looking through to something familiar to us, but different at the same time. As the play started small scaffolding was moved on and off stage, I appreciated that the audience was given the chance to imagine and fill in the blanks as to where the scene was taking place. The scaffolding reminded me almost of a jungle gym as the cast was able to climb and hang off however it felt best for them. Which played well into VanCleave's blocking and Yvette Zaród Hermann's movement. It brought out not only the inner child of the older cast members but the inner child of the audience as well.
Part of the fun of this show comes from having a strong ensemble of actors that tell the story through the multiple characters each of them plays. I enjoyed seeing how many of the actors transitioned from role to role and seeing the subtle differences each of them brought. By doing this they were able to show how for some of them went from characters were new for this story, to characters we are familiar with, while others went from taunting Wendy to being friends with her.
While the show had a strong ensemble, there were also a few actors whose roles stood out to me for different reasons. While some of them were adults in the show, I've chosen to focus on the youth in the show. The first one is Slightly played by Kalen Truong. Throughout the show, no matter what Wendy says to him, he continues to try and bring a smile to her and can feel the pain his character goes through when it is not reciprocated by Wendy. Kalen does a great job of bringing light and joy to the show, that lets us know that things can be ok. This is most evident in the scene with the fireflies.
While Truong's Slightly can give Wendy a relationship she can have but chooses not to, Gabe Schebel's portrayal of Peter Pan is something Wendy want's but can't have. I appreciated how he delivered his lines in a matter of fact fashion. Doing this not only aged the character up, but it still had the fantasy of a child telling a story. He also did an excellent job of bringing the subtext out that he wasn't the same person that Wendy was looking for and letting her know that it was ok to move on.
Leading the show in the role of Wendy is Kiana Collier. Kiana does a beautiful job of bringing the struggle of letting go of her past. She shows the struggle we all go through of putting up walls so that it keeps her from letting go. This plays well into the story as we see her character stop anything that might make her forget, such as cleaning the nursery or allowing herself to have feelings for Slightly. Doing this allows her to take the character further emotionally as well. She took the audience on a journey with her emotions from sad, to angry, to hurt, to hopeful. It is a performance that people will not only think about after the show, but they will remember it.
To go on this journey, you don't have to fly to the second star to the right, all you have to do is head to Franklin Jr. High to see this fantastic production. From the sets and technical elements to the actors on stage, DMYAT's production of "Lost Girl" will take you on a journey you won't soon forget. But you must get tickets before Wendy closes the window on this show. "Lost Girl" continues through September 29. For more information or to buy tickets, visit https://www.dmyat.org/lost-girl
Review written by DC Felton
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