All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.

Damian Leverett,a student at McLean High School reviews “Peter and Wendy” performed by Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program.

 In every grown adult and maturing adolescent there is an enduring fondness for the endearing naiveté and buoyancy of childhood. We hold on to traces and memories of our youth and celebrate them as we accept the harsh reality of having to grow up. Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School embodied this sentiment beautifully in their heartfelt interpretation of Peter Pan and Wendy, the timeless story of a magical boy who does not age, but instead lives forever embracing the ineffable beauty that exists in the heart of a child.

The tale of Peter Pan and Wendy was originally penned by Scottish author J.M Barrie in 1904 as a stage play that he adapted into a novel in 1911. Today, the story enjoys iconic stature and has been altered to fit an array of media, including a Broadway musical and animated Disney film. Barrie’s story centers on the friendship forged between Peter Pan, a mischievous flying boy who never grows old, and Wendy Darling, a young British girl on the cusp of maturation but still filled with the innocence of youth. Peter convinces Wendy and her two younger siblings, John and Michael, to fly with him to Neverland, a supernatural island populated by mermaids, Indians, and pirates. There they join Peter’s rowdy band of misfit Lost Boys and live in a fantastical make believe world, fighting the dastardly Captain Hook’s pirate gang and playing out the adventures of childhood imagination. As much as they enjoy this existence they soon realize there is a cost to the perpetuation of youth that Neverland necessitates, and they must consider returning home.

Exuding inviting warmth in her performance, Monica Loesel took on the role of Wendy Darling, capturing the duplicitous state of a girl stuck between the maturation of womanhood and the simplicity of youth. The effervescent quintessence of boyhood was apparent in Sarah Joanna O’Donnell’s every strutting step, leaping gesticulation, and jubilant holler; her portrayal of Peter Pan was marked by a charismatic commitment and energy, as well as convincing cross-gender acting. O’Donnell’s zeal and Loesel’s maternal nature created admirable on- stage chemistry, exemplifying a commitment and presence lacking in some other facets of the show.

Adding a spark of humor and vigor to the production, the lovable troupe of Lost Boys were brought to life with resounding success. With all members of the dedicated ensemble demonstrating individual characterization, their adorable antics and perpetual ruckus provided essential comedic relief and refreshing consistency. While some actors’ inflection and expression were hindered by use of accents, Jacob Barkett depicted the nefarious Captain Hook with acute control of vocal and physical embellishment, playing the villainous pirate with engaging flamboyancy.

Adding subtle positive touches to this production, the hair and make-up team crafted perfectly zany and tousled hairstyles for the unkempt band of Lost Boys. Taking on the bold decision to utilize a full-fledged fly system, the special effects technicians weathered difficulties with fluid execution to lift actors across stage in marvelous mimicry of real flight.

In spirited celebration of our formative youthful years, Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School’s rendition of the classic story of Peter Pan and Wendy demonstrated the same camaraderie, elation, and emotion that make that era of one’s life so very special.