Kids take charge in Draper Historic Theatre’s “Peter Pan Jr.”
Jun 28, 2018 10:25AM ● Published by City Journals Staff
Cast members from Disney’s “Peter Pan Jr.” stand in front of Draper Historic Theatre. (Photo courtesy David J. Weinstein)
By Katherine Weinstein | Katherine@mycityjournals.com
“Second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning.” You too can make the journey to Neverland this July when Peter, Tinkerbell, Wendy, John and Michael alight on the stage of Draper Historic Theatre in Disney’s “Peter Pan Jr.” This 90-minute musical based on the 1953 Disney animated classic film is a Draper Historic Theater kids production with teens and school-age children acting, directing, producing and stage managing.
All of the beloved songs and characters you remember from the Disney film are in “Peter Pan Jr.,” but director Abby McMullen sees the theme of the show as being a little different from the movie. In the film, she explained, the main theme is about growing up and maturing. “In our production, it’s basically more about learning to work together, I think, because there is a lot of contention between Wendy and the Lost Boys. But in the end they all work together to bring down the villain.”
Learning how to work together is in fact a huge part of being in a theatrical production and one of the main things McMullen hopes her young cast will get out of the experience. “When you’re in a show,” she explained, “you develop a sense of unity with the community — and make a lot of friends.” She hopes the kids will come away with a work ethic, develop confidence and learn how to express themselves. One of the biggest things kids can learn through performing on stage is simply “to learn that there’s fun in putting yourself out there.”
McMullen, who just finished her sophomore year at Corner Canyon High School, grew up doing youth theater and has been involved in productions at Draper Historic Theatre since 2013. She is a member of the theater’s youth committee, which raises awareness about the theater and aims to get more youth involved. There are approximately 30 kids in “Peter Pan Jr.,” ranging in age from 5 to 18.
Max Carter, 17, is the producer and stage manager for “Peter Pan Jr.” and is the youth committee chair. A student at Salt Lake Academy of Performing Arts, he has done productions all around the state. He believes getting kids involved in theater is vital to the survival of the art form. “The thing I like about youth theater is that we’re training our next generation of professional, Broadway actors and actresses,” he said.
To audition, children were asked to prepare a song and read for parts. Cast members were chosen not only based on their talent, but for their potential to learn and grow. Landon Fan, 13, will play the role of Peter Pan. This is only his second show at the theater and he is learning a lot. “At the start I get nervous,” he said. “But as it goes on it gets more fun. Being in a show is full of excitement.”
The rehearsal process is twofold. For the first part of the rehearsal, the kids learn and review acting techniques. For the second part, they focus on the blocking and choreography for the show.
Tori Wood, 16, is excited to be playing the villain, Captain Hook. This is her first production at Draper Historic Theatre. “It’s really fun to have a live theater experience,” she said. “It’s all about the energy between the audience and the cast. Because it’s live, you never know what’s going to happen.”
Disney’s “Peter Pan Jr.” will be presented July 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 at 7:00 p.m. with a special matinee performance on July 20 at 4:00 p.m. Draper Historic Theatre is located at 12366 S. 900 E. in Draper. For tickets and more information, call 801-572-4144 or visit their website at http://drapertheatre.org/