It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s “Peter Pan,” and if it’s “Peter Pan” it’s show time at the Oak Ridge Playhouse.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s “Peter Pan,” and if it’s “Peter Pan” it’s show time at the Oak Ridge Playhouse.

The production on opening night delivered on all that was promised, and the full house of youngsters and their families in high spirits was a gladsome sight to behold. Executive Artistic Director Reggie Law, Music Director Braxton Kiser and Choreographer Maggie Miller make a first-rate team, and the cast of 27, led by the incredible Marybeth Davis, rose mightily to the occasion. And would you believe that “Flying by Foy,” the very same company that created the flying effects for the Broadway productions, is back on the job here?

J.M. Barrie’s play takes us from Edwardian London to Never-Never Land, that magical place where Peter Pan has whisked a trio of children for a wild adventure. There they meet Captain Hook, a band of pirates, a tribe of warriors and an assortment of creatures.

What? You don’t believe in fantasy? Then you need to sit by some small fry and watch his or her reaction to the array of “things” parading before them, including the huge family dog. There is also the specter of a slow-moving, 28-foot-long crocodile crossing the stage. Gavin Hensley, you can take your bow now.

This is a high-tech production, what with the flying effects and the Playhouse’s excellent technical crew outdoing themselves. Clearly, they dared to go beyond the beaten path. The sight of children gleefully flying together is a special thrill because it takes us back to our childhood flying fantasies.

Directed and staged by the very talented Law, all elements were designed to entertain: the pace, the movements, and the rhythm were wonderfully in sync with Miller’s choreography — her use of arms as well as feet was most interesting, and the percussive dance steps (without drums) were very effective. Kiser’s band was orchestrated cleverly to enhance the mood of each song and dance routine. The set pieces and the costumes conspired to heighten a mysterious, even spooky atmosphere, and finally, the talents of the lead roles were well served, beginning with Davis who was unrivaled as Peter Pan because she sang like an angel, flew like a bird, fluttered like a dancer, and was physically fit for every new challenge.

Bouquets too to Olivia Williams as adventure struck Wendy: can’t picture anybody else in that role. Coke Morgan and Anna Elizabeth Gant were fine in the small roles of Wendy’s parents, but Morgan strutted his stuff with delightful self-mockery in his second role as the villainous Captain Hook. What is Hook without his sidekick Smee (played with proper sarcasm by Joseph Nestler)? Every actor had a specific job to do and every individual deserves a reward for ensemble teamwork. The spontaneous standing ovation spoke well for audience approval. When you go, make note of the “Peter Pan” staff. And now I’ll fly away.

Becky Ball is a reviewer for The Oak Ridger. She’ll be reviewing other shows as soon as we can catch her.



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