Wednesday January 17th 2018

“Peter Pan”

★★★★★ One of the hardest parts of reviewing plays is convincing my editors and my spouse that even though I have seen a particular play before, every production is new and often, very different. Yes, I have seen “Peter Pan” ( a musical based on the play by Sir JM. Barrie) at least a dozen times, and so when Jane said, do we really have to drive to Evanston on the Saturday before Christmas, I said “you bet!” One of the reasons is that I know the company that is doing the show-Music Theater Works and the creativity that I was sure Director Rudy Hogenmiller would add to the original”. Ten minutes into the production, she turned to me and said, “we should have brought our granddaughters”. This is the BEST” Peter Pan” I have ever seen”!

I would have to say that the only negative of this production is that it is only a short run- New Year’s Day! What is hard to believe is the amazing set (Adam Veness proves to be quite the artist), great lighting(Andrew H. Meyers) and sound ( Aaron Quick) along with costumes that are as stunning as they are fun (Robert S. Kuhn) and some exciting choreography (Clayton Cross). The musical has been around for decades and has become the perfect family fare with some additional music by Jule Styne, added to the original lyrics by Carolyn Leigh and the music of Morris (Moose) Charlap with original additional lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. These are names that spell Musical success.

Each year, Music Theater Works, formerly known as Light Opera Works, makes the holiday season “family Theater Time” and this year is no exception. The magical touch of this company has always impressed me as they find just the right talent to take on the major roles and then, they find an ensemble of local performers who could easily grace any stage in Chicagoland! For this one, the two parts that are hardest to fill would have to be Captain Hook, Pan’s archenemy and of course Pan himself ( always played by a female).

In the role of Captain Hook, Chicago favorite, Larry Adams , always impressive in any role he takes on, and watching him get into this very “campy” role, I could see the fun he was having from start to finish. He also plays Mr. Darling in the early and late portions of this classic story. Pan is played to perfection ( and possibly even more than perfection ,if this exists) by Aubrey Adams, who not only sings like an angel, has great stage presence and is quite the gymnast. I was taken aback by the slickness of everything and every movement she made. She is one hell of a find and I for one wish to thank Oklahoma for letting her come to Chicago. I am sure all of the local theater companies will join me on this one.

The ensemble is made up of: Elizabeth Stenholt, who deftly handles the role of Wendy, Zachary Scott Fewkes ( as John) and Patrick McDermott (as Michael). Finishing off the Darling family is Ane Marie Lewis as Mrs. Darling and Anna Dvorchak as grown-up Wendy. The “lost Boys” are Asher Alcantera, Miles Chong,Daniel Shoemaker , Brandon Nieves, Billy Sims and Isaac Zumann. An arable bunch f kids!Smee ( Hook’s first mate and fall guy )is deftly handled by character actor Cary Lovett, and the delightful Tiger Lily is played by the perky and very talented Anna Marie Abbate.

The rest of the ensemble is composed of Anna Backer ( who truly dances her way into your heart), Jar’Davion Brown,Madeline Bunke John Cardone, Alex Christ, Clayton Cross, Leon Evans, Jak Ganzer, Kat Geersten, Nina Jayashankar, Kelly Lohrenz , Rose Mitchell, Ayana Strutz, Derek Self, Trevr Vanderzee, Ryan Van Stan and PJ Wilborn . The croc is played by choreographer Clayton Cross, who also plays a key figure in the early portion of the show -Nana, the dog. Added to the story ( at least I can’t recall these animals), are A Lion (Jake Ganzer), an Ostritch (Madeline Bunke) and a Kangaroo (Kat Geersten) the animals help to make scene changes and are fun to watch. A delightful group. I also want to say that the “flying” created by Vertigo is terrific.

The orchestra under the direction of Roger L. Bingaman is great to watch and a real highlight of attending a performance at Music Theater Works. No canned music, no skimping on bringing the live music for is musical to the audience. Here you always get the sound it was meant to be heard. Again, the only problem with this show is the limited time you have to catch it. It is only here through New Years Day with performances as follows:

Tuesday 12/26 2 p.m.

Wednesday 12/27 2 p.m.

Friday, 12/29 8 p.m

Saturday 12/30 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Sunday 12/1 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Monday, 1/1/2018 2 p.m.

Music Theater Works performs at Can Auditorium located at 600 Emerson in Evanston ( on the Northwestern Campus)

Tickets range from $34 and children 25 and under get fifty -percent off all tickets.

To reserve your call 87-920-5360 or visit http://www.MusicTheaterWorks.com

To see what others are saying, visit http://www.theatreinchicago.comgo to Review Round-Up an click at “Peter Pan”

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