Thursday October 2nd 2014

“Peter Pan”

Highly Recommended  While many of us have seen versions of “Peter Pan”, from the cartoon by Disney to the Mary Martin ( followed by many other women) Broadway musical version to the recent Lookingglass Theatre version, none of these versions hit the heights of the long awaited Threesixty Entertainment’s new production, now “under tent and onstage” at  the Chicago Tribune Freedom Center, in a special tent, designed just for the purpose of this production , located at 675 West Chicago Avenue ( just East of Halsted) in Chicago. As you enter the area, you become slightly mesmerized by what they have done to this parking lot- it is a beautiful tent with a dining area, a tented “food court” ( where souvenirs can also be purchased). Even he portable bathrooms are amazing and very upscale. It is almost as if you have left the city and are in another world. Could it be “Neverland”?

Once you enter the ten itself, you find that the seating area surrounds almost 70% of the arena stage area and the upper portion of the tent becomes a massive screen for the marvelous projections using 12 projectors making this the largest CGI Venue in the world. 200 computers were used to create the sharp, very true images and it appears as if we are in the middle of a 3-D film as we travel over the streets of London ( circa 1904) and fly with our characters to NeverLand. The set,costumes and projection design were all created under the direction of William Dudley while the stage direction was handled to perfection by Ben Harrison. “Peter Pan” was the creation of JM Barrie and this version adapted by Tanya Ronder. It is a magical fantasy that deals with parenting, relationships and of course fantasy. The real version is a “dark” drama , as is this, only this production is more spectacle and Cirque making it family friendly. While the show is advertised from 5 and up, I witnessed a three year old who was spellbound and rooted for Peter in every fight with the hated captain Hook and two rows up, a 7 year old who had his eyes covered after the initial scene where Peter appears in the bedroom of the Darling children to claim his shadow and possibly convince Wendy to come along with him to become the missing mother for his “lost boys” in Neverland.

We are fortunate to have this award winning production in Chicago with many members of the original cast along with some added American actors which now makes this an “international production”. This is a multimedia presentation of an old and loved story that we have been read, read, seen on stage and screen and as we aged, read to our children and grandchildren- now we get to see it with a special twist- spectacle, aerial acrobatics. puppetry and illusion that will leave each audience member with their own special memories of this truly amazing theatrical experience. The music that is used is marvelous as well, created by Benjamin Wallfisch, it creates each mood of the scenes, some haunting, some comical, but all perfect! The sound in this large tent located in the heart of a major city is much better than I could have anticipated. True,  we did hear a fire engine and a police siren during this two hour plus show ( 20 minute intermission to allow for bathroom, food sales and of course souvenirs), but none of these distractions had any bearing on the focus of the audience, many of whom were almost trance-like in watching this enchanting production.

The performers, all talented and all appearing to be having fun in their roles, are: Evelyn Hoskins as Wendy, The incredible Ciaran Joyce as Peter, Steven Pacey in the dual roles of Mr. Darling and Captain Hook, The incredible and adorable Emily Yetter as Tinker Bell, Tom Larkin as John Darling,Scott Weston as Michael and Ms. Regina Leslie as Mrs Darling and Never Bird. The lead Puppeteer, who takes on the role of Nana is deftly handled by Joshua Holden and after you get past the first few minutes, the puppet almost seems to be real and we almost don’t notice the puppeteer ( I guess that’s what makes him so special). The rest of the ensemble are all splendid with some wonderful Aerial work by Kasumi Kao and Amanda Goble as the Mermaids and a unique portrayal of Tiger Lily by the very agile Heidi Buehler. The remaining cast members, all of who deserve to be mentioned are: Lee Turnbull, Darren Barrere, Ben Adams, Ian Street, Keith Richards,Josh Swales, Alejandro Cordoba,Alexander Knapp, Ian Paul Custer, Chuck Bradley and Rachel Lien. Bravo!

If you are seeking something special to do as a family, this must be the place! “Peter Pan” will continue under the tent until  June 19th ( possibly longer) with performances as follows:

Wednesdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.-Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m.,Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Tickets range from $20 -$125 ( premium packages include a color program and tote book) and there are also some special events where cast members conduct tours of the facility.

To order your tickets you can visit the box office at the venue/tent, visit the ticket counter at Tribune Tower on Michigan Avenue, call 888-772-6849  or 888-PPANTIX (888-772-6849) or online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com or www.peterpantheshow.com or any of the Broadway in Chicago theater box offices. There are many ways so you can obtain your chance to witness this special production that will be a treasured memory for your entire family.

Want something even more special? On Friday, May 20th,Friday, May 27th, Thursday,June 2nd and Friday ,June 27th you can have the opportunity to take a ride on the “Neverland Pirate Cruise” on Chicago’s Little Lady right from The Chicago Rive dock on MIchigan Avenue and Wacker Drive, setting off at 6:00 p.m. and heading over to the ThreeSixty Tent. A tour guide will talk about the sights and pirate trivia. After the show, these “pirates” will return to the ship and head back to Michigan Avenue. The cost- $65 for children under 12 and $80 for adults and this cost includes a ticket to the production. What a remarkable adveture this becomes!

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