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Peter Pan still flying high

Disney’s Peter Pan Jr flies into town…

We all know at least one person with Peter Pan syndrome and I’m sure some parents wish their little ones had stayed little, if only to avoid the pubescent years… I hadn’t seen the Peter Pan story since the Hook movie of the 90’s so watching the People’s Theatre production of Disney’s Peter Pan Jr still felt fresh. I was in a packed theatre with almost two hundred rambunctious, primary school children. That’s to say, it felt like two hundred with the amount of excited yelps, screams and whoops flying across the auditorium! When the curtain rose, the teachers were as relieved as I was.

This production of Peter Pan Jr embodies the true spirit of the classic tale complete with clever flying sequences and swashbuckling fights. The story of Peter Pan, with its spirit of eternal youth, has universal appeal for both children and adults alike.  This musical features Captain Hook, Pirates & Indians (it is a tale of it’s time so you’ll still hear Native Americans referred to as Indians). It is filled with enchantment and is great entertainment for the whole family. It’s also a good introduction to the theatre, complete with a little discussion with the children about theatre etiquette before the show starts.

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All the characters parents remember are here to create new memories in the children. Peter Pan is the original kid who refuses to grow up – spontaneous and jovial but also petulant and narcissistic. Tinkerbell is his trusted fairy friend who is also not above questionable behaviour. Captain Hook is, well, just plain nasty. There are great lessons in the characters’ behaviour about true friendship, accountability, morality and, surprisingly, feminism and, whenever a character erred, it drew much ire and delight from the young audience. There is a great deal of audience participation too with a few scenes happening in the aisles within arm’s reach, much to the delight of the kids who grabbed or were grabbed by the merry bunch of pirates.

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The Peter Pan Jr cast ‘of thousands’ are headed up by professional performers in the adult lead roles of Peter Pan (Phillip Schnetler), Tinkerbell (Noni Mkhonto), Hook/Father (LJ Urbani), Smee/ Chief (Clive Gilson), Tiger Lily/ Mother (Kayli Elit Smith). They’re rounded off and outnumbered by young performers as supporting pirates, Native Americans and the Lost Boys, including Wendy (Hanna Cohen). The creative team are Grant Knottenbelt (set design), Linda Wilson (costume design), Sandy Dyer (staging) and Jill Gerard and Keith Smith co-directing.

Disney’s Peter Pan Jr runs at People’s Theatre, Joburg Theatre from 6th June until the 14th of August. School times are Mondays to Fridays at 9am & 11am and Saturdays, certain Sundays and Public Holidays at 10.30am and 14.30pm. To book, call The Peoples Theatre at 011 403 1563/2340 or go to www.peoplestheatre.co.za, www.joburgtheatre.com or www.webtickets.co.za

 

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