Lighthearted Peter Pan not too grown up
In the age when adult humor often underlies kids’ movies, the Egyptian Theatre’s "Peter Pan" is refreshingly lighthearted.
Director Adrienne Moore doesn’t ignore the heavier themes of J.M. Barrie’s classic, including class issues, the role of women and the often hazy lines between childhood and adulthood, but rather than catering to the play’s serious side, she emphasizes humor that even the smallest children in the audience can appreciate and strives to give a legitimately rated "G" performance.
Mark Gallagher, a veteran member of the Actors’ Equity Association, leaves the most lasting impression with his dual role as the hair-tossing Captain Hook and the pompous, needy Mr. Darling. His exaggerated gestures evoke a ready laugh from the audience largely because of his earnestness. As Mr. Darling, he is believably resentful of the attention garnered by the beloved nursery dog, Nana, and woefully starved for more familial recognition. As Hook, his need for validation is equally genuine, as he often pauses dramatically to wait for his crew’s praises. His performances alone render the play worth seeing.
Justin Ivie, another equity actor, is as enjoyable as Nana, played in an oversized dog suit, as he is as Mr. Smee. Molly Jackson plays a convincing Peter Pan, energetically zipping across stage and carrying out schemes as the conniving leader of the Lost Boys.
Other highlights include Quinn Lewis-Humlicek as Michael and Deedee Riches in her role as Liza, the grown-up maid with eternally childlike wonder.
Lewis-Humlicek, a fifth-grader at J.E. Cosgriff Memorial Catholic School, plays a boy half his age with skill beyond his years. His decisive speech and angelic expressions give him all the innocence and toddling feistiness of his 5-year-old character.
Riches, meanwhile, conveys the longing of lost youth in the servant world with touching sincerity. After leaving the stage discouraged in the opening scene by her failed attempts to learn a high-society dance with John and Wendy, she later sneaks off to Neverland to rediscover her childhood. Moore confesses she couldn’t resist the inclusion of Liza, an often-cut character in the Neverland scenes, because of the thematic issues she offers as "one whose path as a member of the servant class has ensured a dearth of childlike wonder in her life thus far."
Parkites will appreciate the play’s more obvious adult theme of refusing to grow up. The similarities between Neverland and Park City are impossible to ignore.
Crowing, "I am youth! I am joy! I am freedom!" Peter could be any number of "kidults" in Park City who have foregone the traditional drudgeries of adulthood (and even some who haven’t) in favor of flying down mountainsides without supervision. Since many Parkites themselves have retained a childlike enthusiasm for life, "Peter Pan" holds a relevance that might not apply to mainstream audiences.
The Egyptian’s cheery and multi-faceted rendition of "Pan" makes it the perfect entertainment for all ages. Small children will delight in the magic of flying and fairies, while the adults in the audience will appreciate the parallels to life in Park City.
The show continues through Dec. 29, Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with afternoon matinees at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9 and Saturday, Dec. 15. Tickets are available at http://www.parkcityshows.com or by calling 435-649-9371.
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