BWW Review: PETER PAN at Marian Theatre, Santa Maria
Peter Pan: A Holiday Treat in Santa Maria
PCPA's Peter Pan offers flights of fantasy and imagination for the entire family in a refreshing telling of a classic story. Peter Pan began its theatrical life over a hundred years ago as "panto," an English Christmas-time musical-play for children and adults often featuring a young woman in tights dressed as a boy. Echoing this stage history, two actresses, Chynna Walker as Peter Pan and Amani Dorn as Smee, Captain Hook's sidekick, play as male characters. Like a memory of playing dress-up, this casting amplifies the child-like playfulness of the entire story.
Peter Pan invites the audience to recapture its childhood sense of imagination simply by engaging with the story. We are led by the-boy-who-will-never-grow-up, Peter himself, who prompts the Darling children (and us, by extension) to fly away with him. He guides us to adventures in Never Never Land. There, Peter and his friends need to outwit Captain Hook and his pirate crew as well as a rival gang of "Brave Girls". (The "Brave Girls" are a welcome update to the "Piccaninny Tribe" of J.M. Barrie's original play.)
For the characters, imagining the impossible is a requirement for going anywhere interesting. Even the story's archetypal adult, Captain Hook (gloriously played by George Walker), engages in song and dance to clear his mind as he plots his revenge against Peter Pan. (I, for one, forgot that Captain Hook dances the Tango.)
To the delight of the audience, director Mark Booher handles the largeness of the story by expanding the boundaries of the playing space well beyond the stage. The pacing of the musical is brisk as the scenic changes happen swiftly while one's attention is diverted to some wizardry of staging.
This production of Peter Pan with its captivating performances and staging make for an enchanting evening of entertainment this holiday season.