( somewhat recommended) Lookingglass Theatre is an adventurous ensemble, who bring novel theatrical experiences to their free form stage located in the Historic Water Tower on Michigan Ave. Direct on the heels of their fantastic “Lookingglass Alice” a unique look at “Alice in Wonderland”, they are now presenting a new adaptation of the works of J.M. Barrie’s beloved “Peter Pan”. Amanda Dehnart’s adaptation ( she also directs) is far from what you might be used to from the Mary Martin/Sandy Duncan/Cathy Rigby musical version that has been pleasing kids for years. It is in fact, a much darker look at the stories and it is NOT suggested for kids under 12. I will tell you that many parents did not pay attention to the warnings and ended up leaving at intermission. While I found myself laughing at a great many of the “bits”, ( They should have made Molly Brennan’s Smee a little larger, she is so great in physical comedy) and in awe of some of the flying that we witnessed, as a journalist it is my duty to tell you what the overall picture is, and in this case, one might call this a work in progress. Perhaps they should pay close attention to the audience reaction and go back to the drawing board so they entertainment experience becomes complete.
“Peter Pan” is a story that we all know and love and is a family show where kids learn a lesson about the relationship between parents and children. This “darker” look while funny in many parts is scary in others and a little to violent. The aerial arts and gymnastics, the sword fight while being moved around on ladders and scaffolds is amazing while at the same time, a bit scary and the energy of the young cast of players is amazing, but the true understanding of growing up ( and of course Peter’s desire not to ) is not as strong as Barrie wrote them. This production is instead more about being a kid who lives in a make-believe world where they can fight pirates and just live a playful existence. I don’t think that was Barrie’s intent and while I enjoyed myself, I can understand why parent with younger children might just not come back for the second act.
As far as productions go, this is as I stated earlier, a very energetic cast with the very bubbly Ryan Nunn as Peter. He is as athletic as they come as he flys, leaps and fights his way to save Wendy ( Kay Kron)and her bothers, John ( Jamie Abelson) and little Michael ( the adorable Alex Weisman, who shows us some real versatility in this show) from the evil Captain Hook ( marvelously played by Thomas J. Cox). The lost boys- Kelley Abell,Kareem Bandealy, Matt Holzfeind and Nate Trinrud all do splendid jobs of earning our love despite the script itself. Royer Bockus makes a delightful Nana, their nursemaid Saint Bernard ( who in this version speaks instead of barking) and Mr. and Mrs Darling are played by Raymond Fox and Amy J. Carle ( who also take on many other roles). Tinker Bell , the fairy is played by Aislinn Mulligan. The other cast members are Ericka Ratcliff as Lily ( Tiger Lilly in the original),Sarah Fornace as Jane ( Wendy’s daughter when she grows up who takes the adventures with Peter to the next level) and Adeoye as the Clown and others.
The music by Andre Pluess who also did the sound with Michael Griggs and Matt Hawkins movement along with the costumes by Melissa Torchia and lighting effects by Lee Fiskness are all major parts of the production, but unlike most plays, there is no real set, just things and openings in the floor ( so I guess we should make mention of the clever use of the theater by Dan Strutton) and lots of “stuff” ( theater terminology would be Props ( William Anderson amassed lots of “stuff”). Again, the overall production has tremendous value and is an experience that will be enjoyable to many, as is, but I truly think that this can go to another level and perhaps be as strong as “Alice”, but again, not for little ones ( unless they get rid of the gunshots, and some of the violence).
To see for yourself, “Peter pan ( A Play)” will continue at The Lookingglass Theatre located at The Water Tower Water Works located at 821 N. Michigan Avenue ( at Pearson) through December 12th with performances as follows:
Wednesday,Thursday,Friday,Saturday and Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m.
Holiday schedule: Tuesday,November 23rd at 7:30 p.m. NO PERFORMANCE on Thanksgiving
Friday,November 26th a special 2 p.m. added show and NO Performance on Sunday evenig,November 28th
Tickets range from $20-$62
Target Saturday afternoons offer a buy one get one free value
There is alos discounted parking at John Hancock Center and Olympia Self park located at 161 E. Chicago Avenue
To order tickets call 312-337-0665 or visit www.lookingglasstheatre.org