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Peter Pan swash-buckles as youthful costume pageant

Tater Patch Play continues this week

 

 Captain Hook (Tyler Roper, left) and Peter Pan (Ellie Boothe) cross swords near the climax of play action.

 

In a retelling of a familiar children's story, the Tater Patch Players' bring to life Peter Pan in their gorgeous new theater space off the road behind Walmart.

The spectacle takes place as something of a costume pageant, showcasing the amazing gift of newfound costumer, Patti Caruso-Hunt. Of special visual interest come Captain Hook and Peter Pan. While all the pirate get-ups are interesting, Hook's dazzles. Peter's motley garb and leafy headgear suggest a wilderness dweller, free-spirited and untamed, in keeping with the title character.

Action begins in a Victorian bedroom, three youngsters bedding down as parents head out for the evening. As soon as sleepers grow still, Peter emerges from a wardrobe hunting his shadow, a sort of flimsy stocking he locates and main character, Wendy, sews back to the back of him.

During a previous clandestine visit, Pan heard Wendy tell bedtime stories to her younger siblings. Figuring that talent would make her a useful person on the Island of the Lost Boys, where he captains a motherless male brood, Peter entices Wendy and the other children (John and Michael) to magically fly with him to that island place.

Settled in on the island, John and Michael join the corps of boys. Wendy fills the role of surrogate mom to the whole crew, while Peter plays a father's part. All would be domestic bliss but for a band of ruthless pirates under Captain Hook, bent on terrorizing the island.

 

In turn, Hook is periodically terrorized by a reappearing green crocodile (remembered as the reason for the captain's mean right hook).

After vanquishing the island's native population, Hook and crew turn-to on the lost boys, getting the drop on them. Captured and tied (one with his teddy bear), all are about to walk the plank when Peter shows up to save the day.

Afterward the whole lot fly back to Victorian England, where mother and father (home from their party) agree to adopt all the lost boys en masse. Only Peter balks at the idea.

"Will you send me to school?" he asks. "Will you make me go to an office? Will you teach me solemn things men must know?" Unlike his former charges who gravitate to Wendy's mom, Pan rejects the idea. "We don't need silly mothers," he says before heading back to the island, scheduled to revisit England but yearly for helping Wendy with spring cleaning.

It echoes a question Hook asks in the middle of the pirate/boy sword fight that climaxes the play. "Who are you, Pan?" the captain queries.

"I am youth," Peter gives back. "I am joy. I'm a baby bird just out of the shell."

This production is youth as well, peopled with child actors (male and female) who fill the large cast as lost boys and native islanders. Kudos to writer-director Bob Countryman who herded the lot into a working company, a youthful troupe just out of the egg.

The show continues this week at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 27 through Saturday, July 30. There is also a Saturday matinee performance at 2 p.m.

Prices: Adults–$15; Seniors 65 and older–$14; Students 11 and up–$13; Kids 5 to 10–$7; Kids under 5–$1. Tickets are available at the box office and on-line at taterpatchplayers.org.

The Tater Patch playhouse stands at 95 Old Philadelphia Lane off of Old Philadelphia Road behind Jasper’s Walmart.

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