The curtain went up last weekend in Quince Orchard High School's impressive auditorium for a new version of "Peter Pan" by John Caird and Trevor Nunn, a comedic script that had the large audience chuckling in its seats.
The six-act play uses a large cast of characters to tell the story of the boy who would not grow up. The play, originally by J.M. Barrie, is narrated by the grown-up, suit-wearing Storyteller (Colin Read, who gave a polished, professional performance). Peter Pan (Avnish Mehra) and his new friends Wendy (Ashleigh McDonald), John (Adam Kruszewski) and Michael (Mitchell Powell) fly around the stage thanks to cables cleverly hidden in the back of their costumes.
Hanging microphones effectively provide sound for the entire cast, although sometimes noise can be heard from backstage while actors exit and when crew members move furniture.
Powell, portraying Michael, the youngest of the Darling siblings, turns in a crowd-pleasing performance. Although only a second-grader, he delivered his lines perfectly and received more than one well-deserved "awww" from the audience. Peter's favorite fairy, Tinkerbell, is actually a green laser operated by Duncan Appleby; David Kreps is the talented violinist who supplies her voice.
The striped, multicolored costumes of the ruthless band of pirates were well made to suit their plundering needs. The infamous Captain Hook (Jeremy Lee) is clearly the leader, clad in a rich red coat, high-top boots and an impressive hat. Probably the strongest actor onstage, Lee is not only an immensely talented actor but also a gifted singer. Another talented actor is the "dainty" lady pirate Madam Starkey (Laura Webb), who unfortunately has limited stage time.
The Lost Boys' lair is cleverly situated under the stage in the orchestra pit, accessible by moving the tree trunks onstage and climbing the ladder to the pit. Chris Veckman plays Slightly, their silly but cool unofficial leader. The Lost Boys themselves, many of whom are played by middle school students, wear tattered shirts and pants and appropriately behave like Lost Boys.
The set for the pirate ship is mildly appealing, although the scene change is a bit long. The climactic fight, when Peter and the Lost Boys take on Hook and the pirates, would have been more convincing if the stage combat had been choreographed. At the end of the show, Peter visits Wendy when she is older. Although she wears a grown-up blue dress, Wendy does not appear to age.
Despite the minor flaws, Quince Orchard High School has succeeded in delivering an amusing production appropriate for adults and children alike.
Blake High School
"Peter Pan" is alive and well at Quince Orchard High School. This faithful performance is heartwarming and fun.
The set design alone is worth mention, from a starlit backdrop to the rocky Lost Boys' home underneath the stage itself. Act 3 in the lagoon is cleverly acted out with the use of fabric scarves and sequined mermaids. The costumes of some of the Neverland inhabitants, notably the ostrich and nymphs, are especially colorful. The members of the cast, which contains several smaller children, worked well with each other throughout the production.
The Indians, pirates and Lost Boys perform together with great timing and chemistry as they chase each other around Neverland. Jeremy Lee as Captain Hook is beyond convincing and quite hilarious, although he somewhat sacrifices enunciation for accent. The Lost Boys clamor and jostle in harmony, with Nibs, played by Alonso Gamarra, being especially adorable. The pirate extras in Act 5, unfortunately, crowd the stage, often distracting from the main characters and drowning out lines. Microphones didn't seem to help the actors, who, despite good delivery, are almost inaudible at times, which makes the action somewhat hard to follow.
But the audience looked past these minor difficulties, laughing heartily at jokes and resoundingly applauding when Tinkerbell is saved. True to character, Peter is raucous, Wendy is motherly and Tinkerbell is luminescent. Quince Orchard's performance of "Peter Pan" reminded every adult in the audience what it's like to want to never grow up.
Watkins Mill High School