Monday, February 15, 2010

Peter Pan--A Musical Adventure

You’ve never seen Peter Pan like this before!

Peter Pan, the boy who refuses to grow up, has been seen in various versions: book, film, television and on stage. But he’s never been seen locally in the form being performed by Mercury Summer Stock for their “Just Beyond the Stars” gala.

Peter first appeared in a section of The Little White Bird, a 1902 novel written, ironically, for adults. A play about the boy and his fellow “lost” boys, debuted in 1904. A stage musical came forth in 1950, with music and lyrics by Leonard Bernstein. That version starred Jean Arthur as Peter Pan and Boris Karloff in the dual roles of George Darling and Captain Hook. It was initially intended as a full-blown musical, with Bernstein composing a complete score, but was staged with only five songs – "Who Am I?", "Pirate's Song", "Plank Round", "Build My House", and "Peter Peter," to accommodate the limited vocal ranges of the principal actors.

The boy really took off when, in 1953, Walt Disney’s animated version of ‘PETER PAN’ was released.

In 1954, the popular, and often produced stage version, most recently performed locally at the Beck Center, was conceived. With music by Mark "Moose" Charlap, additional music by Jule Styne, and lyrics written by Carolyn Leigh, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, it starred Mary Martin as Peter and Cyril Ritchard as Captain Hook, and earned Tony Awards for both stars. A major new stage production was performed in Summer 2009 in Kensington Gardens.

Entitled ‘PETER PAN--A MUSICAL ADVENTURE,’ it is this new British version, complete with a totally different score and book, that will be presented by Mercury Summer Stock on February 20 at 7:30 at the Breen Center, on the campus of St. Ignatius High School. It has music by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, composers of the Broadway hit ‘MARY POPPINS,’ which was a smash hit in its recent Cleveland showing as part of the Broadway Series, and book by Willis Hall.

The Mercury production, only the second time the musical will be performed in the United States, will be a staged reading. The cast includes Matthew Wright as Captain Hook, Maria Thomas Lister as The Storyteller, Natalie Green as Tiger Lily, Jeff Grover as Mr. Darling, Jen Myor as Mrs. Darling, Kelly Monaghan as Wendy and Brian Marshall as Peter Pan. The show will be staged by Pierre-Jacques Brault. Musical director is Bill Corcoran.

“My First Musical” program, is the educational arm of Mercury’s programming. Through it, children under the age of twelve from the Parma City School District and other educational institutions of the Greater Cleveland community, are given access to experiencing live musical theatre by attending, free of charge, each show of the Mercury season. They have interactive pre- and post-performance workshops to foster an interest in, and appreciation of the theatre.