Wendy’s Peter Pan Review – A Journey to Neverland

Gabbi Beauvais as Peter Pan in WENDY'S PETER PAN - Photo by Ian Flanders
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Is this the summer you hoped would take you to Neverland, the imaginary isle of magic? Adapted by Ellen Geer from J.M. Barrie’s 1904 play, WENDY’S PETER PAN does just that for a fun vacation in Theatricum Botanicum’s beautiful outdoor amphitheater. To quote Geer, “This beloved classic fairytale of a boy who refuses to grow up was written 120 years ago…like Shakespeare, the adventures in Neverland will remain in our vocabulary and hearts forever. May our next generation never lose the innocence of belief in other worlds and other ways.”

Quinnlyn Scheppner, Willow Geer, and the Lost Boys – Photo by Ian Flanders

Over the years, Peter Pan has come to symbolize youthful innocence and escapism. In fact, Barrie may have fashioned Peter Pan on his older brother who died in an accident the day before he turned 14; thus his mother and brother thought of him as forever a boy. Barrie’s play was first produced in 1905 – and in 1911, he adapted the tale into a novel, “Peter and Wendy.” For his later version, he added a new ending in which Peter Pan returned years later to ask Wendy to come to Neverland again for spring cleaning – but found that Wendy was now an adult married woman. But Peter’s sadness turns to joy when Wendy’s daughter Jane accompanies him to Neverland. Let’s see what fascinating changes are wrought by Geer to keep the production fresh and forever young.

Lynn Robert Berg and the Lost Boys – Photo by Ian Flanders

The time is 1916 and 1940 (and sometimes forever); and the place is mostly Neverland. Wendy’s mom (Willow Geer) knows just how to keep her kids – Wendy (Quinnlyn Scheppner), John (Jaz Bennasar), and Michael (Julius Geer-Polin) – quiet and attentive. She’ll tell them a story – but this time the true story of her long-ago adventures in Neverland with Peter Pan (Gabbi Beauvais). For this is an exciting tale about villainous pirates like Captain Hook (Lynn Robert Berg), fairies like Tinkerbell (her dancing light coming to life courtesy of Zachary Moore’s lighting), and tough heroes like Tiger Lily (Ianthe Marini). When Peter decides to do some spring cleaning, he needs a mom in his all-male cohort of Lost Boys (Asher Edwards, Luther Geer-Polin, Aster Laine Smith). What better mom then Wendy? After all, she not only knows how to soothe and organize – but she also knows some really great stories like Cinderella.  And what better additions to the Lost Boys than her two younger brothers, both aching for some excitement in their lives?

Nana, Robyn Cohen, Julius Geer-Polin – Photo by Ian Flanders

Under the skilled direction of Ellen Geer (who also wrote the script, “A Retelling of the Play by J.M. Barrie”), WENDY’S PETER PAN takes flight (quite literally) amidst songs, dances, and a sprinkling of the fantastic. Geer has an uncanny grasp of fantasy and makes it happen on stage every time. The ensemble cast does an excellent job of keeping the story light, cute, and lots of fun. Kudos to Gabbi Beauvais’s Peter Pan; it seemed as if Mary Martin came back for a visit! As always, the production crew rallied around Geer with terrific costumes (Tracy Wahl), music (Marshall McDaniel), sound (Grant Escandon), and lighting. And let’s not forget the fight choreographer (Cavin Mohrhardt) and the aerial and movement choreographer (Lexi Pearl). Everyone does a splendid job of keeping WENDY’S PETER PAN hopping.

The Crocodile – Photo by Ian Flanders

WENDY’S PETER PAN runs through October 4, 2024, with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays (7/28, 8/9, 10/4), Saturdays (6/22, 5/29, 7/6, 9/14, 9/21, 2/28), and Sundays (7/14, 8/18, 8/25, 9/1, 9/8). The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Topanga, CA 90290. Tickets are $30 (upper tier), $48 (lower tier), and $60 (premium seating) with discounts for seniors, military veterans, teachers, AEA members ($35 and $20) and children 5-15 ($15). On Friday 7/26, Pay-What-You-Will (cash only at the door). For information and reservations, call 310-455-3723 or go online.


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