When a stage production has its run extended, you can be fairly sure it’s a hit. JM Barrie’s Peter Pan, currently on stage at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, has just been extended an extra six weeks with its last performance scheduled for January 2, 2011.
I was invited to attend opening night with my four year old son and two friends. The show is performed in a theatre-in-the-round setting, thus guaranteeing everyone has a good seat. Be “somewhat” forewarned: this is closer to the original version of Peter Pan than the movie and stage versions I’ve seen over the last 30 years or so. The biggest difference being that Peter Pan’s costume is nowhere near the kelly green get-up with hat and boots that we all have emblazoned in our memory banks. Even more dramatic is Tinker Bell, who is quite the tough-girl fairy and attired in a punk ensemble to drive that point home. But, true to the original tale, Tinker Bell was not a huge fan of Wendy and here she certainly lets that be known.
Thanks to the wonders of technology, we fly with the cast over the city of London on our way to Neverland. Believe me, you really feel like you are flying—with amazing views for 360 degrees. There is some music and it is a well scored show delivered on high quality equipment. Contrast this with puppetry and some primitive staging and props and it is an ingenius mix of the new with the old. The aerial acrobatics are well executed and really held the kids in awe.
The story was easy to follow and kept the attention of my four year old as well as his two five year old friends. In fact, there were a number of pre-school aged kids in the audience and all seemed enthralled. The show is not recommended for children under-5, and I think parents can figure out if their kid can handle a two hour twenty minute performance. In my opinion, there was nothing scary or inappropriate for children.
I myself get antsy at shows and only felt that perhaps the last twenty minutes dragged a bit. I just spoke with a friend who said both she and her husband were moved to tears at the end. The message of children “growing up” does resonate with all parents. Feel free to leave your kids at home and make Peter Pan a date night.
The OC Performing Arts Center is just across from South Coast Plaza and its excellent roster of dining establishments. Tickets start at $40. For more information on the show visit peterpantheshow.com and ocpac.org
Elizabeth Peterson blogs at TradedMyBMWforaMinivan.com