Monday, March 14, 2016

Peter Pan Soars Over Roy-Hart Stage

The Royalton-Hartland spring musical has been a tradition for Wendy and I almost as long as she's been teaching at the school. For several years, we took my grandmother to the show as part of her birthday present. In fact, Sunday's matinee would have been her 96th birthday. Now that our kids are a bit older and interested in theater themselves, we've begun to take them. This year they had a cousin and several friends performing in the production.

This year's musical was the high-flying “Peter Pan.” Directed by Carol Blumrick in her twenty-fourth and final performance, the show lived up to all the expectations that we’ve grown accustomed to from Roy-Hart musicals. I will say, however, that the kids in the play so much younger than they were when Wendy and I first started to attend. I don’t remember being that young as I graduated from high school.

Starring in the title role of Peter was senior, Madison Whitehead. She flew through the air with the greatest of ease; no butterflies that we in the audience could see. Madison, with her hair cut into a pixie cut (no pun intended), delivers a very believable rendition of a boy who doesn’t want to grow up despite the best efforts of his friend, Wendy.

Speaking of Wendy, Shannon Dent was equally as fantastic in her role as the mother to the Lost Boys. With restrained enthusiasm, Wendy makes the trip to Neverland only to find her place as the adult in the relationship with Peter and his Lost Boys. In a singing microcosm of reality, she neatly showcased the real gaps in maturity between boys and girls at almost any age. Considering that she’s still a junior, we will get the opportunity to see her one more time on the Roy-Hart stage.

Tyler Sauers, as Captain Hook, brought together his impeccable comedic timing and stage presence to pull off a truly funny rendition of the hapless pirate haunted by the ticking memory of a lost limb. Most of the laughs in the musical came at the expense of Sauers’ characterization. His mannerisms on stage demand the audience's’ attention. As a junior, like Shannon, Tyler will be back next year for his final performance. Trust me, he can make you laugh without even trying.

The musicians are led by Gerald Bacon (incidentally one of the greatest names in the business). As always, the music was performed with great aplomb. Probably the biggest issue I had with the performance was it seemed like there was a slight disconnect between the action on stage and the music played. Several times, the actors recited their lines, and had to wait for the music to continue. It did give a slightly disjointed feel to the program, but very likely it was simply opening night jitters. They still did a fantastic job, and I’m sure the subsequent performances more than made up for this very slight imperfection.

The wire work that allowed Peter and the Darling children to fly was something I didn’t quite expect to see in a high school production. I gave the production that added level of professionalism that isn’t always seen at this amateur level of theater. It definitely impressed me. My daughters were sure excited to see the kids play across the stage.

My daughters were very excited about going to see “Peter Pan.” Not only did they have their cousin, Destanie Giertz, in the cast as an Indian, they also had a couple friends in the ensemble. Here’s a big shout out to all the participants of the musical. Together, they put together a performance that rivals some of the other greats that Roy-Hart has staged.

When they’re on stage, it can sometimes be difficult how young these thespians actually are. When I saw them after the show, milling about in the hallway outside the theater, their true ages shine through all the makeup they’re wearing. It is a vivid reminder that these are kids putting themselves in front of large audiences for a love of acting and singing. It takes a great deal of confidence to do so in front of your peers. They should all be applauded for their efforts.

To anyone who missed this year’s performance, rest assured there will be another musical for you to catch next year. Mark your calendars for that second weekend in March. I’ll save you a seat.

Craig Bacon never wants to grow up, but has no problem playing “house”with Wendy. His theater reviews will come as he finds new shows to go to. Stay tuned to @hippieboy73 on Twitter.