Atlanta Art Reviews by Susan K Asher
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A Pan for “Peter Pan”

2011 February 2

Threesixty’s version of “Peter Pan” is nothing like the version that has hit Broadway five times.

This production is more true to the book, and that’s not always such a good thing. In this case, it doesn’t work as a play. It’s more a showpiece of marvelous puppets and lifelike scenery than a coherent story.

The script is disjointed. Characters, like the ostrich, seem to come and go for no reason without moving the play forward. Many of the actors act as if they are performing for six year olds, but the story, originally written for adults, is difficult to follow in this version.

This production is more likely to thrill for its special effects than for its storyline or acting.

Held in a circus-style round tent, a 360-degree aerial footage of London is shown on its dome making it appear as if Peter, the three Darling children and the audience are flying over the city. Via 360-degree aerial views, we see the children fly over the Thames River, through tunnels, and soar into the clouds.

When they land in Neverland, they meet up with the Lost Boys and go undersea, where they and the audience will be enveloped among reefs, seamounts and fish. Aerialists, as Mermaids, twirl and climb through reefs up silk ropes performing acrobatic feats.

Later, the Lost Boys and Peter will fight Captain Hook and his pirates.

That, sadly, is as interesting as the show gets. No interesting acting, but a lot of over-acting.

It’s a spectacle that may work for children who are eight or older, but it was too scary for a six year old who attended a matinee and cried when the crocodile appeared.

The script is disjointed and hard to follow as an adult, especially when actors can sometimes barely be heard.

Christopher Keller, lead puppeteer created a life-size big shaggy dog that acted as lifelike as any dog.  Andrew Gruen, as Mr. Darling, gave a notable and believable performance as a frustrated, hard-working father.

“Peter Pan,” directed by Ben Harrison and designed by William Dudley, is adapted by Tanya Ronder from the J.M. Barrie story, with music composed by Benjamin Wallfisch.

Cast:

Christopher Keller, Andrew Gruen, Elijah Trichon, Samantha Hopkins, Shannon Warrick, Darrell Brockis, Emily Yetter, Ciaran Joyce, Lee Turnbull, Joshua Kuehl, Ben Adams, Ian Street, Jef Canter, Josh Swales, James Nieb, Justin Torres, Mauricio Villalobos, Chuck Bradley, Heidi Buehler, Rain Anya, Sarah Bebe Holmes, Beth Triffon.

Christopher Keller, Andrew Gruen, Elijah Trichon, Samantha Hopkins, Shannon Warrick, darrell Brockis, Emily Yetter, Ciaran Joyce, Lee Turnbull, Joshua Kuehl, Ben Adams, Ian Street, Jef Canter, Josh Swales, James Nieb, Justin Torres, Mauricio Villalobos, Chuck Bradley, Heidi Buehler, Rain Anya, Sarah Bebe Holmes, Beth Triffon

“Peter Pan” runs through March 20 in Atlanta at Pemberton Place. Tickets are available at peterpantheshow.com.

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