When going to see J M Barrie’s Peter Pan at the Three Sixty Theatre in Tysons Corner you have to consider the following questions. The first one is “Will my kids like it?” and the answer to this is most likely yes.
The story of the boy who wouldn’t grow up has enchanted children of all ages for over 100 years. Who wouldn’t be mesmerized by pirates, indians a fairy with an attitude.
The second one is more complicated because it asks the question of how do you like to see Peter Pan presented. Everything is very subjective in theatre. What I like you might not and vice versa.
If you are not used to seeing a male actor play Peter Pan then please give Dan Rosales a chance to make you a believer.
Having said all this, I was expecting more than what I got when I entered the tent where the show is performed. The show is performed in the round, which is why it is called the Three Sixty Theatre. Because of this there are very minimal scenic elements for obvious reasons. Set designer William Dudley’s set pieces include the window to the Darling nursery and several portholes so the cast members can enter and exit through the floor.
Many of the other locations are done with projection in a 360 surround projected onto the tent ceiling totally immersing the audience. It took 100 computers four weeks to create all of the imagery and at every performance twelve projectors generate the finished product. It seems to me that more and more shows are depending on these kinds of effects to be able to charge exorbitant prices. Keep in mind that full price for an adult ticket is somewhere around $100. At that price, hearing actors fight with the house air conditioning system should not be an issue.
What every production of Peter Pan always had up till now were flying effects that lifted you out of your seat. This is not the case here. All of the coat hanger looking harnessing is in full view which, takes away all of the magic. Yes, I know you will never be able to hide all of the wiring but I would have liked an attempt at least to make it look a little less noticeable.
Lastly, what really bugged me was that while watching this production were how many elements I’ve seen in other shows. The mermaids are introduced in an ariel silk number ala Cirque du Soleil and the crocodile is operated by two puppeteers and looks like it was taken straight out of War Horse in its construction. I guess what I’m saying is for me there is not much to make this show stand out from a standard proscenium production of Peter Pan.
I said at the top that kids, particularly ones that are going for the first time, will enjoy many things in this show. Some of the performances will certainly qualify as part of the like list.
If you are not used to seeing a male actor play Peter Pan then please give Dan Rosales a chance to make you a believer. His portrayal of the boy who wouldn’t grow up is quite remarkable. He is as agile a performer as any I’ve seen play the role.
Annapolis native Sarah Charles will win your heart as Wendy Darling, the young girl who flies to Neverland with Peter to give the lost boys a chance to have a mother.
Scott Weston and John Alati do well with the portrayals of Michael and John Darling respectively.
Your kids will also be rooting for the energetic Indian princess, Tiger Lily, played with lots of spunk by Porsha Putney.
Cute as a fairy Jessie Sherman, as a human Tinkerbell, gives an over the top portrayal of the stuck up and very possessive fairy who wants Peter all to herself. Sometimes less is more.
The biggest drawback of the performances is the bombastic and screechy Captain Hook played by Stephen Carlile. Yes, this is a choice on how to play the character but because Carlile plays Mr. Darling the same way it just becomes too much, too fast.
The orchestral score was recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra and is 70 players strong. Now that’s the way to hear the scoring job of multi award winning composer and conductor Benjamin Wallfisch, and the additional music for this current version by Howard Herrick performed. Wallfisch’s “Flight to Neverland” gives us a welcome jolt of power.
Overall, kids will enjoy this show more than I did. I prefer good flying and less of everything else when I watch Peter Pan. For me, this version just doesn’t take off like it should.
Running Time: One Hour and 50 minutes with one intermission.
Peter Pan runs through August 16, 2015 at Three Sixty Theatre which is located at Tysons Corner Center – 8200 Watson Street, in Tysons, Virginia. For tickets, call (800) 745-3000, or purchase them online.
From the recording being sold at the show of Benjamin Wallfisch’s terrific score, here is “Flight to Neverland.” It is conducted by Wallfiisch and performed by the London Symphony Orchestra.