Oh, the cleverness of this production! Back again after four years as a Learning Theater offering of Falls Church’s Creative Cauldron, “Peter Pan and Wendy” opened last weekend and will run through Nov. 18. This is a show that delights all ages and once again showcases the enormous talents that are housed in Falls Church’s Cauldron operation.
Laura Connors Hull, the founder and producing director of the Cauldron has jumped in for her own major role in this adaptation of the timeless J.M. Barrie adventure, adjusting with Ellen Selby the script to fit into the cozy confines of the theater space and directing overall, with the enormously talented Matt Conner writing the music and doing the choreography in conjunction with his partner Stephen Gregory Smith’s role as lyricist, and Margie Jervis providing the fascinating costume, prop and scenic designs.
Yes there are many children in this show, but they add, not detract, from its charm and timeless themes by being blended so well with the professional adult actors — Captain Hook and Smee included — and the deft solution to making Peter Pan fly when there is no “fly loft” capacity to swing him through the air.
As Hull says in her theater notes to this production, “Storytelling is our most powerful tool in our arsenal. Good storytelling transcends technical feats, and allows an audiences to fill in all the gaps in their imagination. What if the Darling Family and Peter were puppets, and only when they arrived in Neverland did the story become ‘larger than life,’ with real actors as characters?”
Once moved beyond the puppet realm, the major roles were played by Gabriela Simmons-Robles as Peter Pan, Aashna Kapur as Wendy, frequent Cauldron headliner Will Stevenson as Hook and E. Augustus Knapp as Smee (a long-time City of Falls Church resident who is a charter member of the Victorian Society here). Simmons Robles has appeared in over eight Creative Cauldron Learning and Musical Theatre productions including her leading role in “Madeline’s Christmas” that will be reprised again next month, and Kapur has been in productions with the Cauldron the last two years.
Tink is a flashlight behind a curtain whose sound is a fast-moving high pitched piano keyboard, and, yes, when it appears she may be dying, everyone in the house gets to root her back to life with applause and foot stomping.
Hook’s nemesis crocodile, a highly-amusing Jarvis creation, is housed by Arianna Vargas and Constance Meade and Tiger Lily is Morgan Beltson. The Darling family, the Lost Boys, Hook’s pirates, Tiger Lily’s animal kingdom warriors, the mermaids and the star nebula involve a total of over 40 young actors.
The Connor-Smith creative musical team’s work is a pure delight with seven original songs.
Hull has announced that Cauldron is now making all their original adaptations of children’s classics, like this one, available under its “Bold New Works for Young Audiences” licensing arm, with scripts that come with professionally orchestrated musical tracks.
This production is sponsored by the Juan C. Febles Memorial Fund. The show will run Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. through Nov. 18. Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors and military, $14 for students and $12 for groups.
The performance space, the ArtSpace of Falls Church, is at 400 S. Maple, Falls Church, or alternately by taking the second star to the right and flying straight on until morning.