Not Your Grandma’s Peter Pan

J.M. Barrie’s 109 year old play (and subsequent novel) Peter Pan has inspired many a theatrical take on the boy who wouldn’t grow up.

Original 1904  Play Announcement

Original 1904
Play Announcement

There must be pixie dust in the air these days because two such inspirations are opening this summer.

The one I’m particularly excited about is Fly (Book by Rajiv Joseph, Music by Bill Sherman, Lyrics by Rajiv Joseph and Kirsten Childs) — a world premiere musical adaptation of Peter Pan where Peter flies Wendy and John on an adventure to Neverland but “scarier, funnier and sadder”.   Fly will open at the Dallas Theater Center on July 2, 2013.  From their website:

Forget the walls
Forget the floor
Forget the Pans you’ve seen before

Forget the ground, forget the sky, ‘cause the more you forget the higher you will FLY!Fly the Musical poster

I’m rooting for Fly!  Two things reeled me in without my setting foot in the state of Texas.  First, I am a vocal and unabashed fan on the writing of Rajiv Joseph.  He is the kind of playwright whose eclectic and sometimes shocking body of work informs you that his next work may be depended on to be only one thing and that is excellent.  The other thing I love is this:  Director and producer Jeffrey Seller posted this Casting Note when looking to cast the children to portray Peter, Wendy, John and the Lost Boys in Fly:

“The kids I’m searching for to play Peter and the Lost Boys like to climb trees but don’t like to do homework.  They like to ride skateboards and bikes but don’t like to sit around all day and watch tv. They don’t like to cut their hair or comb it too much. They love to swim, or ski, or jump off the high diving board. They like playing with matches.  And they’re not afraid of nothing.”

Seller sounds very brave.  (Can you imagine downtime at rehearsals and backstage with that cast?)  His inspiring notes on the Dallas Center website about the origins of Fly remind us that this, like most new work, has engaged the hearts, minds and souls of a team of very talented artists.

Fly’s promotional literature promises: “…soaring flying expeditions, sword fights with pirates, stunning choreography and spectacular drum beats, Fly is a thrilling theatrical journey meant for adults and kids. Hidden in the excitement are questions about what it means to grow up and the beauty of embracing the natural course of life.”

Break a leg Fly team.  Fingers crossed that this one lands at a theatre near me.

mfa_darling_650x250

Another Peter-Pan inspired musical, Darling (Book by Brett Ryback, Music and Lyrics by Ryan Scott Oliver ) is being presented at the Children’s Creativity Museum by  ACT’s Young Conservatory in San Francisco June 14-29.   As described on ACT’s website,  the story follows “upper-crust teenager Ursula Morgan . . . Neglected by her excessive, self-absorbed parents, Ursula encounters a boy named Peter, who is being pursued by the captain of police for a heinous crime he may or may not have committed.  When Peter offers Ursula the opportunity to run away with him, she takes it and immediately finds herself swept into a seedy underground world of jazz, sex, and a mysterious white powder called Fairy Dust.”   Director Craig Slaight says of Darling “Although set in Boston in 1929,  the themes of the abandonment of young people by adults and the adolescent quest for place are timeless. Rebellion, the budding of first love, danger, and finally redemption lead these characters through a story inspired by J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan.”

In related news, Tony-award winning director Diane Paulus (Pippin) has signed on to direct the new musical Finding Neverland preparing for its London West End opening this spring (with a view toward Broadway).  The musical premiered last fall in Leicester, U.K. and is based on the 2004 movie starring Johnny Depp about J.M. Barrie and his relationship with the widow and children who inspired his writing of Peter Pan.

As the Narrator says in the movie version of Peter Pan:   “All this has happened before, and it will all happen again.”  (with music and lyrics!)

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