I was not at all a die-hard Peter Pan fan when I was a kid. I preferred Alice and the Philippines’ Princess Sarah. But thanks to Disney and a lot of other adaptations, I became quite acquainted with Peter and Wendy’s foray into the wide world of Neverland.
But still, that was not enough reason for me to actually agree to go with my friends and catch the second to the last week showing of Repertory Philippines and Stages Productions’ Peter Pan – A Musical Adventure last October 22.
Up to now, and especially after the riotous MRT ride that I went through that Saturday night, I couldn’t fathom why I chose Peter Pan for my first ever (you read that right) theater experience.
What I do know was that after the show, I was more than glad to have seen it.
Peter Pan was a story about a boy who did not want to ever grow up. He had come across London Town where the Darling siblings lived. With his enthusiastic tales about Neverland, he managed to convince Wendy, John, and Michael to come and fly with him to the magical world. Even more, Peter got to make them fly through a sprinkling of pixie dust!
In Neverland, Peter Pan’s brothers–the so-called Lost Boys–were eagerly on their toes avoiding the pirates led by the cunning Captain Hook. They were made happier when they saw Wendy flying toward them.
In the course of the whole story, it was made clear that Peter brought Wendy to Neverland so they could play house with him as the father to his and Wendy’s children: the Lost Boys and John and Michael. Unfortunately, things were made more complicated by the ever hateful Hook and his gang of pirates. It also did not help that Tiger Lily’s tribe was always on the loose. Worse, Peter did not seem that well-versed with the definition of responsibility.
The play was a spectacular series of songs and storytelling that eventually ended with a surprise and yet ultimately sad twist.
At the finale, viewers could not help but feel sorry for the boy who never grew up and who lost all the good chances that the world could offer him–including forming a loving family.
Sam Concepcion as Peter Pan
I was superbly in awe of Sam Concepcion in his portrayal of Peter Pan. He was bubbly and grouchy when needed to be. Peter’s arrogance was shown as well as his softness. The clarity of his singing also gave the best impressions of Peter’s thoughts and emotions. The best parts of his portrayal? The flying, of course. There was that magical feeling of seeing Peter fly across the stage that for some good moments, you could wish he wouldn’t go down.
Cara Barredo as Wendy
Undoubtedly, the best compliment that could be given to Cara was the superb power of her performance. The singing was theater material alright, with perfect diction and clarity and shrillness that could actually break a mirror. Her speaking lines were delivered with as much clarity and the amazing British accent that made her altogether a delightful character to watch.
Michael Williams as Captain Hook
Have you ever hated and laughed at a pirate so much you couldn’t really pinpoint which emotion was more powerful? Well, Michael’s Captain Hook could certainly do that to you. His portrayal was flawless–cunning when mad and fondly amusing when not. I loved his voice and the way he dealt with such young adversaries. He was an actor that could blend in and stand out at the same time.
Joy Virata as the Narrator/Old Wendy
The woman who so successfully surprised me that I wanted her to have this part. She was probably one of the best narrators I got to watch. Her voice was not that booming with such intense emotions that you could hardly understand what she was saying. She was clear in most instances, as if everything was simply matter-of-factly. In the end, where she revealed who she really was, I was quite astonished and amused to see how she so easily blended with the whole picture–as if she was not just someone reading off a story book but the character herself.
The Lost Boys, John, and Michael
They were all so cool and cute. I especially liked the song and dance number of the Lost Boys whilst waiting for Peter and speculating about his journey. John and Michael also did their part as the ever-loving brothers of Wendy. I liked how they were so taken by Neverland that their childish innocence and awe seemed to me as if the best positive feedback ever to be given to the place.
Theirs was a group of completely hilarious villains that had the huge bodies of the bad guys but the soft hearts (or cowardice? Hmmm) so uncharacteristic of such characters. Smee was amazing with his antics as well.
Kakki Teodoro as Tiger Lily
For someone with as few scenes as Kakki, she really got to make the most of her portrayals. She was feisty as she had to be while being just as vulnerable as any female tribe leader could only be.
What I Liked
1. The Production. Props to everybody who were at the backstage as much as to the select black-clad few who were actually on stage. It was a great production of settings, props, and costumes. Since it was my first time to watch a play, I was a bit disoriented with parts wherein the crocodile was being pushed around so visibly by two people. But after a while, I just got used to it.
The finer points had to be given to the seemingly seamless transitions of scenes. It was altogether fast but not at all chaotic. The perspectives of such settings as the Lost Boys’ underground home and Hook’s ship were also commendable.
2. The Musical Score/Arrangement. Fantastic vocals, amazing lyrics, and the best of musical scenes were probably the best attribute of Peter Pan. The scenes were carried out with such majesty that came not only from the casts’ musical prowess but also from the backstage sound crew. In fact, the songs were so good I would really love to buy its OST, should one ever comes out.
3. The Plot. Since I didn’t really grow up with Peter Pan, I really appreciated how the plot of the play stuck with the basics of the tale. It was not really difficult to understand the story because you needed not to have background knowledge. I also loved the ending, which had both compromise and finality. It was sad, but the morale was there.
4. Special Parts. I’d also like to give it to the writers who had thought of including two superbly great scenes: Tinkerbell’s coming back to life; and the final scene where the cast bid the audience goodbye. For me, these two parts where really smart not just because they worked well though obviously not within the plot but also as they encouraged audience participation with so much enthusiasm.
What I Didn’t Like
Actually, in retrospect, I only could cite two things I didn’t like about my whole experience.
One, we didn’t get to start the play. Which really sucked, because we missed the first flying part. Yeah, we got in late thanks to me slowly battling out with the rudeness of the MRT people.
And the other thing I didn’t really like: the absence of Tinkerbell’s physical form. I understood from several articles that I got to read after watching the play that Tink wasn’t really supposed to be a live creature. She was, in some versions of the play abroad, just a spot of laser light hovering around and whispering. But c’mon. Did the prod team really had to do that here? I was really disappointed. Thankfully, she was portrayed with such good sound effects and a black-clad crew carrying her around that missing out on her became impossible.
On the whole, my very first theater experience was not so bad. It was cool and eclectic and definitely worthy of all the hassle and stress. So much had come out of this that I would not really forget.
In the end, it did not really matter that we missed the first scenes or that Peter Pan stayed as a boy while everybody grew up and moved on. What was important was that we got to watch a journey of a boy who had taught us so much about the importance of responsibility, bravery, and friendship.
Until your next flight, Pan!
* Photos from Write, Breathe, Live; Bum-Spot; and all over Google Images