Get ready to enter a world of fantasy and take a trip to Neverland with the Darling children as Lethbridge Musical Theatre celebrates its 50th anniversary by staging “Peter Pan” Nov. 8-23 at the Yates Theatre.
Director Deonie Jensen is keeping very true to Scottish writer J. M. Barry’s original script.
“Peter Pan is a story I’ve always loved. From the first time I read J. M. Barry’s original version, I knew it had to be Lethbridge Musical Theatre’s 50th anniversary production,” Jensen enthused.
“It’s something that celebrates the family, so it was just perfect for LMT,” she said.
“It’s just such a fun story, so the fact we are able to do it is just very exciting,” she said.
“There are certain moments that we are able to do that are really exciting, so I’m excited to see the audience’s reaction,” she enthused.
The 29 cast members come from as far away as Claresholm and Milk River, with the two leads, Peter Pan (played by Camille Blott who was in the “Hairspray ” chorus) and Captain Hook (played by Darrell Croft who was Edna in “Hairspray”) commute from Claresholm and Taber respectively. They rehearse Mondays through Friday.
Jensen directed last year‘s production of “Hairspray” and several other productions, but she is enthused about working with some familiar faces as well as numerous new ones.
“It has been a huge organizational challenge,” she said.
She was fascinated by the style in which the original book was written.
“What really surprised me is it was written like someone was telling a story and making it up on the fly. It’s like a dad telling his kids a story and he goes off on tangents,” she described, adding she only made minor edits to the script.
“I wanted it to be as accessible to the average person. I want it to reach them. I think people will be surprised by it,” she said.
“Everyone sees Peter Pan as such a happy go lucky character in the film, but at the same time he’s very sad. But at the same time it is very light hearted,” she continued.
The cast also includes Dave Ronson as Smee, Tigana Runte as Wendy, Max Gilchrist as John and Apollo Hess as Michael.
“The biggest challenge has been getting these people to fly, because we don’t have the capability to do that. So it has been a challenge to figure it out, but we’ve come up with a few magic tricks. Hopefully they’ll look good,” Jensen said.
“There are a lot of big numbers and a lot of big sets,” she said.
Camille Blott is excited about playing Peter Pan.
“I was in ‘Hairspray’ and it was an incredible experience. I really loved the cast and crew and enjoyed it a lot. There was a very high level of professionalism, so I wanted to be in Peter Pan and do it again, said the 16-year-old Grade 11 student.
“My parents have been as dedicated to this as I have and they have no complaints. I do my homework in the car,” she said.
She is enjoying playing Peter Pan.
“He’s the boy who doesn’t want to grow up. So I’m playing off that childlike enthusiasm,” she said..
“He wants to be a leader, but he is pretty conceited. It ’s definitely the biggest role I’ve ever played,” Blott said, adding she played the title role in “Anne of Green Gables” last summer for the 100th anniversary of the Empress in Fort Macleod.
“I get nervous about a half hour before the show, but when I’m on stage I feel fine,” she said.
Croft is a veteran of Lethbridge Music Theatre. He has been part of every production for the past 25 years in some capacity and is especially excited about playing Captain Hook and Mr. Darling.
“This has been great. I get to play the greatest villain of all time. It’s always nice to play the bad guy,” he said, adding he is enjoying the contrast between the two characters, Hook and Mr. Darling.
“Hook is the type of person who lives life free and does what he likes, but at the same time he’d like to have Mr. Darling’s life and family. At the same time, Mr. Darling would like to be like Hook,” he observed.
“Of course Hook is basically surrounded by idiots who don’t do what he tells them to and he’s frustrated by that,” he said.
The family aspect is why Croft keeps coming back to Lethbridge Musical Theatre.
“I really wanted to be involved in it because it is their 50th year and I’ve been involved in all of them over the past 25 years,” he said.
He has been on stage for the last four shows including “Oliver,” “Kiss Me Kate” and “Hairspray.”
“I wanted to be involved even if it was back stage,” he said.
“This organization is full of people who are dedicated to the arts. It’s always nice to meet the old people as well as the new faces. It’s a family you keep coming back to,” he said.
Peter Pan runs at the Yates Theatre Nov. 3-23 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $24 students and seniors, $26 for adults plus fees.