Take an immersive trip to Neverland in ‘Peter Pan’

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Take an immersive trip to Neverland in ‘Peter Pan’
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By Jordan Wright (Photo/Jeremy Daniel)

“Do you believe in fairies?” In response, the audience, primed for a night of wonder and magic, seized on the age-old question with resounding approval. Author J. M. Barrie would have been delighted to hear them respond to his fantastical query of yesteryear.

Notwithstanding the enthusiasm, there’s nothing old fashioned about the Threesixty Theatre’s production of “Peter Pan” except the bygone tale of a boy who refuses to grow up. Produced by Norton Herrick of Herrick Entertainment and Charlie Burnell of Threesixty Entertainment, this technologically modern version of the classic tale got its start in London’s Kensington Gardens, the very same place that features a statue of Peter Pan in the neighborhood where the Darling family, Wendy (played by Annapolis native Sarah Charles), Michael (Scott Weston), John (John Alati) and their mother (Hannah Jane McMurray) and father (Stephen Carlile) resided with their canine governess, Nana.

This spectacular theater experience will wow all comers with its 360-degree CGI-projected backdrop system, the first of its kind in the world. The footage surrounds the audience with breathtaking images — from the Elizabeth Tower that holds Big Ben at the Palace of Westminster and Buckingham Palace to the gabled rooftops of Victorian London, and later the island of Neverland, where the feral and free Lost Boys, Captain Hook (Stephen Carlile) and Tiger Lily (Porsha Putney) live and where jungle scenes and pirate ships complete the total immersion into Peter’s world.

This is a unique experience and goes beyond the hype that usually accompanies such major productions. Yes, it is in the round and yes, there are some breathtaking aerialists, especially two ravishing mermaids that twirl and hang on swaths of silks. And if that doesn’t keep you at the edge of your seat, there are swashbuckling sword fights and dizzying feats of flying by Peter (Dan Posales), Tinker Bell (Jessie Sherman) and the Darling children. At times it
appears so realistic that one little girl, witnessing the swaggering menace of Captain Hook, asked her parents, “Is he acting?”

Yes, in fact, he is, along with 19 other actors and a host of puppets who bring this beloved tale to life in a way never achieved before — not by Disney, by Broadway or TV.

Thom Southerland directs the high-energy action and seven-time Olivier Award winner William Dudley continues the magic with clever set designs that achieve the seemingly impossible through the use of rotating trapdoors that swivel 180 degrees to reveal everything from treacherous rocks to home furnishings and the shipboard trappings of the Jolly Roger. Benjamin Wallfisch and Howard Herrick composed the original music with tender ballads, Irish jigs and Tiger Lily’s exotic dance. Gypsy Snider, cofounder of the Montreal-based circus company, Les 7 Doigts de la Main, created the breathtaking choreography.

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