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BWW Review: TINKER BELL at Des Moines Playhouse: Believe in Fairies and Friendship!

BWW Review: TINKER BELL at Des Moines Playhouse:  Believe in Fairies and Friendship!
Maia Talarico as Tinker Bell
Photo by Steve Gibbons

Do you believe in fairies? Or have you grown too old for that belief? Maybe a better question is, do you have a friend? Someone who believes in you, especially when you disagree with each other? Des Moines Playhouse's current production of "Tinker Bell" by Patrick Flynn, uses everyone's favorite fairy to tell a new but familiar story. She takes the audience on a journey that allows them to reflect on what it means to have a friend. Will this production have you believing in fairies, or friendship by the time you leave?

"Tinker Bell" is a new telling of our favorite story about the boy who doesn't want to grow up. While our favorite elements of the Peter Pan story are there, this tells the story through Tinker Bell's eyes. The story starts as a tale of a fairy, who we know as Tinker Bell, who lives in a nameless land alone. She decides one day that she needs to go on a hunt for a friend. As she goes on her journey, she meets a young boy, who we know as Peter Pan, who is running away from home. They quickly become friends, and she decides to have the boy come back to Neverland with her. When the land starts to fill with Pirates, and other boys, Tinker Bell become scared that she will lose her best friend. The hardest part for her comes when Wendy and the boys come to Neverland and make Tinker Bell feel replaced. We then see a new take on a story we have all heard before.

BWW Review: TINKER BELL at Des Moines Playhouse:  Believe in Fairies and Friendship!
Maia Talarico as Tinker Bell
Ashley Marie Rogers as Peter Pan
Photo by Steve Gibbons

For those familiar with the J.M. Barrie's play "Peter Pan," this production will be a treat for you as there are several nods through the production. The first being the audience's introduction to Tinker Bell as a green light moving around the stage and audience. The tradition continues with Peter Pan being played by a woman. My favorite tradition comes towards the end of the show when the crowd claps to save Tinker Bell. The beauty of this moment is that it becomes even stronger in this production, as it is a true showing of friendship.

Part of the fun of the production is the imaginative ways this story is told. One of the ways the story is told is through Nicholas Amundson and Charissa L. Hamel's set design. Walking in the first thing I noticed was the beautiful painting on the stage that appeared to be waves crashing on the shore of an Island. This got the imagination running. As the production continued, pieces came on and off that let children's imaginations run. My favorite was blue strips that came on to represent water that people fell into. Director Katy Merriman also came up with creative ways for the cast to fly on stage without them coming off the ground. What I enjoyed is that she came up with separate ways for the actor to fly to Neverland, and also for them to fly to London. The only time in the show this differed, was when Peter and the Darling children flew from London to Neverland. Once you see the show, you will understand why this was done.

What brings the magic to this story to the stage is the outstanding cast. The cast is lead by Maia Talarico as Tinker Bell. She delivers another terrific performance that will make a believer out of everyone in the audience. Through the actor's performances, we see the value of friendship through the relationships of the characters in the show. There is a child's friendship we see grow between Talarico's Tinker Bell and Ashley Marie Rogers' childlike take on Peter Pan. We also see an unlikely friendship grow between Tinker Bell and Chris Ennis's Mr. Smee. Mr. Smee shows Tinker Bell and us what true friendship is in his friendship with Michael Howland's comedic take on Captain Hook. The cast also has several children who are making their Des Moines Playhouse debuts. Each of them doing a terrific job, along with the adults in the ensemble.

Friendship is something we should all believe in. So again, I ask, do you believe in fairies, my friend? You should cause our friend Tinker Bell believes in you! Des Moines Playhouse production of "Tinker Bell" plays through March 8 at the Kate Goldman Children's Theatre. To find out more about this production, or to purchase tickets, visit https://www.dmplayhouse.com/events/tinker-bell/

BWW Review: TINKER BELL at Des Moines Playhouse:  Believe in Fairies and Friendship!
Ashley Marie Rogers as Peter Pan
Maia Talarico as Tinker Bell
Michael Howland as Captain Hook
Photo by Steve Gibbons

Review written by DC Felton
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From This Author DC Felton