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BWW Review: PETER PAN Soars at Candlelight

BWW Review: PETER PAN Soars at Candlelight

Peter Pan/a musical production of the play by Sir James Barrie/lyrics by Carolyn Leigh & music by Morris (Moose) Charlap/additional lyrics by Betty Comden & Adolph Green; additional music by Jule Styne/Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre, Claremont/directed by John LaLonde/choreographed by Kirklyn Robinson/through August 18

Peter Pan is an enchanting tale that delights children of all ages. Children dream of being able to fly and to live freely, without attachments or responsibilities. With the right casting, the show is pure magic. Now onstage through August 18 at Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theatre, Peter Pan will never grow up, thank heavens! In this case there is not a famous star attached to the role....and director John LaLonde has cast a male in the lead. A refreshing change...and, let's face it, it must work. Peter is a boy, after all. Gavin Juckette is an immmensely talented triple threat who has played the role previously on the East coast. La Londe has cast this Peter Pan very well, making it soar.

I don't think it is necessary to rehash the plot, as we all have either read the fairy tale by James Barrie or watched the original star Mary Martin play the role on classic television reruns. The memory of Peter and the lost boys, the beautiful Indian girl Tiger Lily and the malevolent Captain Hook being chased by a crocodile with a clock inside of him linger in the mind for all time. The original Hook, Cyril Ritchard was campy and over-the-top. In this presentation, Hook played by Randy Ingram comes across as a real pirate, a flashy swordsman, in spite of his cowardly traits. Ingram plays the befuddled Mr. Darling as well in a very straightforward manner. Also on board are Francesca Sola as the sophisticated and maternal Mrs. Darling, Valerie Rose Lohman as the pretty and resourceful Wendy, Thomas Stanley, quite agile but less funny as Smee, Amaris Griggs so lovely as Tiger Lily, and let's not forget the dancing pirates ... and James McGrath who adroitly darts around as Nana. Andrew Bar is the quiet John and Asher Broberg, the gabby Michael. Praise to actors with more than one role, pinch hitting as an Indian or Pirate...and kudos to all the Lost Boys.

LaLonde has directed with perfect pacing, especially in Act Two, where the opening number "Ugg-a-Wugg" steals the hour with delicious choreography from Kirklyn Robinson. The sets by Chuck Ketter are very colorful and attractive especially the island scenes and costumes by Mark Gamez also delight the eye. Douglas Austin is the musical director who has expertly matched the soundtrack recording to the live performance

"I Gotta Crow", "I'm Flying", "I Won't Grow Up" "Hook's Waltz" and "Neverland" transport you to another dimension of time and space.

Director LaLonde has made some cuts in the show that are to be lauded in terms of time, as the audience is filled with little children who do tend to get restless. But I did feel a couple of missing elements were Tiger Lily's loving capture of Peter at the end of Act One and the death of Captain Hook in Act Two. I heard the crocodile ticking and Hook yell, but saw nothing. It may be due to technical aspects that make it difficult to execute a man falling overboard on this particular stage. No worries, it's still good and the show delights.

Peter Pan is so much more than a fairy tale; it's a story of hope for all ages. Believe that you can do anything and never give up on it, regardless of age! The children cheered for Tinkerbell! It is a true indication that the legend has moved forward and is still bringing joy to all who encounter it. Keep sprinkling that fairy dust!

Wonderful also that the proceeds from the purchase of a ticket to this production go to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London to which author J.M. Barrie bequeathed his Peter Pan in 1929. The Hospital has benefitted thousands of children through the years.
(photo credit: James Suter)

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Act One at Candlelight is the wonderfully scrumptious dinner. I love the Tri Tip Bollinger cut and the dessert menu is the best anywhere. Ice cream is homemade and the Berry Sundae and peanut butter ice cream remain favorites. For a mere $6 you may purchase a drink that celebrates the show. I ordered a "Jolly Roger", named after Captain Hook's ship, that is like a fine sangria laced with rum, white wine, pineapple and lime juices. Delicious! FYI, the service is impeccable with fast, efficient delivery to your table...and the waiters wear a smile.

Next up is The Bodyguard The Musical opening August 23. Make early reservations, as most shows sell out way in advance.

For reservations or more info, go to;

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