Peter Pan Flies High

From the second star to the right and straight on till morning, Brookfield Central’s Theater Department put on the timeless Broadway musical, Peter Pan. After months of preparation and monumental work, this production was brought to life at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center on Nov. 20-23.

Ever since J.M. Barrie whipped up the idea of Peter Pan for his debut in The Little White Bird, a 1902 book of short stories, this character was bound to be a classic. Eventually this character took flight in Barrie’s 1904 play, which became re-written as a novel in 1911. This novel is similar to the Grimm Brother’s fairy tales, in part that the play has had several stage variations and movie adaptations, including the 1954 musical, the Disney animated movie and a plethora of other spin-off books (Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson).

This triple act musical began with a beautifully played overture and prologue by the pit orchestra. The music composed by Morris Charlap and Jule Styne, and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, are magically directed by BCHS’s own band director, Jason Gillette. Cassi Jehly (‘16), a flautist, explained “I loved being a part of the musical this year. It was my first time being in the pit, and the music was really challenging, but I enjoyed the challenge.”

Greeted with a somewhat nostalgic feeling from the pit, the audience could not help but feel euphoric for the musical. The moment when Peter Pan flew on stage and began his ballot “I Gotta Crow,” every adult was listening intently, remembering their youth when playing games and crowing was acceptable. Despite the role of Peter Pan being traditionally played by a woman, Landon Quinney (‘15) took on the whimsical role with such spirit.

Low and behold, he does not know what hit him when he comes flying into the Darlings’ lives. Wendy, played by Sarah Brown (‘16), becomes overjoyed by the idea of Neverland, a place where children never grow up. “Playing Wendy was one of the best experiences of my life. I identify with the character greatly, which made playing her a lot easier. She is very protective of her younger brothers which causes her to be very motherly, and since my brother yells at me practically every other minute to stop mothering him, I’d say it was easy for me to relate.” said Brown.

Along with her brothers John (Thomas Kindler ‘16) and little Michael (Tyler Meulemans ‘18), Wendy follows Pan on an extraordinary adventure through Neverland, encountering Indians and pirates alike (not to mention the hilarious housemaid Liza, played by Sophie Michalski ‘18). This amazing experience of these four characters flying through the air added to the overall magic. Flying on thin wires against the backdrop of hundreds of lights, it truly felt as though the kids were flying against the stars and above the clouds, with the help of a fog machine.

It would not be Neverland without the Lost Boys tagging along behind Pan. This ensemble worked to show John and Michael just how much fun staying young can be. In one of the most memorable songs of the musical, “I Won’t Grow Up,” the boys refuse to conform to society if they wouldn’t be allowed to climb trees and must say “I” not “me.” The overall effects and scenery were magnificently put together. Ever so realistic, Pan’s hideout was the most breathtaking backdrop with the use of a fire pole and secret entrances.

Opening with a welcome to the musicals antagonist, the ever intimidating Captain Hook, (played by Brett Fong ‘17) Act Two expresses the background and intent of the crew throughout the “Hook’s Tango.” “It was fun being Captain Hook because of the interesting word choices and accent that is totally different from my own voice.” said Fong on playing the villainous role. Fong throws plenty of panache into the role as he kidnaps the Darlings and the Lost Boys in Act Three, as a way of defeating Pan. The intimidating band of pirates, with brilliant make-up adding to the effect, conjured an immense amount of laughter from the audience upon the cleverly halved pirate ship background.

On the other hand, the Indians led by Tiger Lily (Emma Borkowski ‘17) expressed the astounding choreography that was seen throughout the show. The Indians especially moved slyly along the stage in the “Indian Dance.”

“It felt very liberating to be a part of this year’s musical. It was a huge honor,” Amber Soik (‘16) exclaimed, “My favorite song was definitely ‘Liza’s Dance’ because I really loved having a dance solo. Playing an Indian was honestly more fun than anything else.” Unfortunately a speaker had fallen on Soik’s left foot during the Saturday matinee, but despite the pain, she persevered through the last three shows, but missed the Sunday matinee show.

Although the Lost Boys disagreed with the Indians for quite some time, Pan befriended the girls after saving Tiger Lily’s life from Hook. Despite Wendy’s best efforts to show Pan growing up is not so bad, playing house and trading kisses as thimbles is not as satisfactory as she thought. When all go to leave Neverland, Pan is left to be poisoned by Hook. In an attempt to save Pan, the bold flash of green light known as Tinkerbell, drinks the poison. Breaking the fourth wall to save the dying Tinkerbell, Pan asked the audience to believe in fairies by which kids and parents all around held up flashing wands, which were popular fun, and sold out in the lobby.

Working together, Pan eventually freed the Darlings and the Indians from Hook’s merciless hand in the reprise of “I Gotta Crow” as all go chasing after each other in multiple circles on stage. Concluding the performance, Pan gave Wendy and the boys wisdom of the imagination, courage, bravery, adventure, fun, to hang on to and pass on from generation to generation.

Like Wendy and the lost boys, we can accept the responsibilities of growing into adulthood, while still remembering that child inside who refuses to grow up, allowing us to laugh and play forever. Mr. Darling (Josh Borkowski ‘14) in his life of practicality, dignity, and serious concerns, eventually comes to see this, realizing his wife’s (Leah Peavler ‘15) wisdom of childish fun is worthwhile.

Of course there cannot be Peter Pan without Captain Hook’s arch nemesis, the ticking crocodile (Jeremiah Kendl ‘15), sending him into his first mate’s arms (Smee as Jason Hubler ‘15). Additionally, Nana the dog (Ryan McNulty ‘15) keeps the audience laughing hysterically in this shaggy get-up. Every one of these costumes were magnificently put together, including an ostrich (Karin Jorgensen ‘15) who seems to never get a break from being chased by all.

The casts’ talent and dedication, along with the crews’ and directors’ perseverance, the production came together well. “Peter Pan was a huge success! We broke all of our attendance records by selling out four of the five shows,” Natalie Hartwig (‘16) said, “I grew really close to all of my cast mates, especially the other Indians, being one of them.” Congratulations to the cast, crew, orchestra and directors for this amazing production of Peter Pan!