PFAA brings classic children’s play ‘Peter Pan’ to Waynesville Print E-mail
Wednesday, 31 May 2017
From left, Captain Hook, played by Stephen Woolsey, and the pirate Smee, played by Curtis Wood, listen for trouble as they hatch a plot during a rehearsal for “Peter Pan: A Fantasy in Five Acts.” The PFAA production opens June 9.
Story and photos by Matt Decker
Assistant editor
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Scottish author and playwright J.M. Barrie’s stories  of Peter Pan and his adventures in Neverland have entertained and inspired millions of readers around the world for more than a century.

Clockwise from left, the Darling children played by Henry Westphall, as John, Gracie O’Donnell, as Wendy, and Jason McCormick, as Michael, dote on their dog, Nana, played by Tracy Yount, during a dress rehearsal of “Peter Pan: A Fantasy in Five Acts” May 25 at the Theate on the Square.
Now, “Peter Pan: A Fantasy in Five Acts” is nearly ready to fly onto the stage at the Theater on the Square. The play, which has been in rehearsals since early April, is slated to open at 7:30 p.m. June 9 and 10, followed by a 2:30 p.m. matinee June 11. Future performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m., June 16, 17, 23 and 24, with an additional matinee set for 2:30 p.m. June 18.

“This is a great Family show,” said the play’s director, April York. “You don’t want to miss it.”

Barrie first introduced readers to Peter Pan in a 1902 novel, followed by a number of other books and plays  featuring the character. Over time, Peter Pan has been revisited and reimagined many times on stage and screen, including several animated and live-action movies. However, the PFAA production is rooted firmly in Barrie’s original works, York said.

“Many of the lines in this play are lines from the books,” she said. “It stays very true to the story.”

During the play, Peter, played by Ash Thompson, visits the three Darling children: Wendy, played by Gracie O’Donnell; John, played by Henry Westphall; and Michael, played by Jason McCormick. He convinces the trio to come with him to Neverland, where they meet the Lost Boys and encounter Indians, mermaids and pirates, led by the villainous Captain Hook, played by Stephen Woolsey.

“It’s a coming-of-age story,” Woolsey said. “Peter is locked in time, and all the other children are attempting to come of age. That’s the dichotomy that we set up, and the one the story makes. It is also an enormous amount of fun, because there’s just a little bit in all of us that wants to go back in time and be with Peter.”

The dichotomy between adulthood and childhood has been especially meaningful for O’Donnell as she has worked to portray Wendy.

“I think that Wendy is very much like her mother,” O’Donnell said. “She’s very motherly and wants to take care of the Lost Boys. But she also just wants to be a little girl and have fun.”

O’Donnell describes the production as “magical.”

“I think this play does a good job capturing the magic of the imagination every child has, but puts it in a way that is attractive to people of all ages,” she said. “Everybody should come see it.”

The play’s author is also a character in the PFAA production. Nate O’Donnell plays Barrie, who narrates portions of the story and guides the audience along as the play makes its way through its separate acts.

Rounding out the cast are Tracy Yount as the Darlings’ loyal dog, Nana, and Russ Marshall and Janet Rozmariek as Mr. and Mrs. Darling. Rileigh O’Donnell plays the role of Slightly, Ben Shubert appears as Tootles, Lyzel Gutterez plays Nibs, Amelia Falge takes on the role of Curly and Grace York and Truman Trower are the first and second twins, respectively. Tracy Moran plays Cecco, Johnny York appears as Starkey, Curtis Wood takes on the role of Smee, Tatiana Reyes plays Tiger Lilly, Ella Westphall plays Panther, Elizabeth Cortese appears as Liza, while Caleb Lewis plays Mullins and doubles as one of the pirates. Pirates are also played by Molly Zarcone, Nathanael De Graftenreed and Jesse De Graftenreed. Appearing as Indians are Aiden Smith, Shelby Cannon, Aysia Adams and Lillian Smith. The Mermaids are played Cheyanne Main, Victoria De Graftenreed and Gracelynn Cortese. Hannah Craig plays the crocodile.

A frightened Captain Hook, played by Stephen Woolsey, runs from a hungry crocodile, played by Hannah Craig, during a rehearsal of “Peter Pan: A Fantasy in Five Acts” at the Theater on the Square.
As the director, York has seen the production come together after facing some challenges over the past few weeks, especially as the school year has drawn to a close for several local districts.

“I have a cast of 34, which is the largest cast that I’ve done, so just trying to match schedules and get the entire cast here at one time has been a challenge,” she said. “But it’s going really well. We expect this to be one of our sold-out shows, so get your tickets early.”

PFAA has rated their production “G,” which Woolsey said he liked.

“It’s certainly good for the kids to see this version of Peter Pan,” he said. “Some of the recent movie versions have been — well, plain scary. This one is definitely Family friendly, and we do want everyone to come out and see it if they can.”

Tickets for “Peter Pan” are $10 for adults, and $5 for children ages 12 and younger. Tickets are available at the Pulaski County Tourism Bureau, St. Robert Family Dental and Seda’s Gift Shoppe.

For more information, vistit the PFAA website at or visit the @PulaskiFineArts page on Facebook.

Last Updated ( Friday, 23 June 2017 )