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Curtain Calls

By | 2005-10-27T09:00:00-04:00 October 27th, 2005|Entertainment|
Review: ‘Peter Pan’
Show about not growing up ages well

An interesting thought hit me last week as I was leaving the Fisher Theatre following the opening night performance of the musical “Peter Pan.”
None of the adults I talked to or eavesdropped on discussed the very entertaining play we had just seen. Instead, we all commented on how sore we’d be if that was us up there flying around the stage. And we were amazed at how effortless and pain free Cathy Rigby made it look despite being a 52-year-old former Olympic gymnast.
Yet none of that mattered to the children whose wide but tired eyes and excited voices revealed something different. They didn’t seem to care that a middle-aged woman was playing a young boy, nor that she and the cast were probably still trying to catch their breath after working so hard for the past two-and-a-half hours.
No, all of the youngsters sitting near me that evening seemed totally enthralled by the wonderment and magic of live theater.
Did they notice the messed up light cues at the start of the show, I wondered? Or were they aware of the wires that flew Peter and the Darling children in and out of Neverland? And did it matter to them that Tiger Lily and the Indians were oh-so very un-PC?
Probably not, I figured but if they were, they certainly didn’t let such mundane details effect their overall enjoyment of the show.
For if there’s one thing I learned while spending more than 20 years in and around theater for young audiences, it is this: Children are the most honest audience. If they like a show, you’ll know it; if they hate it, you’ll REALLY know it.
So since I didn’t detect ANY restlessness throughout the evening or whiny, crying children, I think it’s safe to conclude that “Peter Pan” was an experience they will long remember and treasure.
Too bad, however, that I can’t review the production through the bright eyes of a 10-year-old instead of through those of a crabby 50-year-old theater critic with glaucoma. For despite the fact that like the Lost Boys I don’t ever want to grow up, I did. Which means that now I watch a play from a more cerebral perspective and that I observe specific details that a child might ordinarily ignore.
Child actors Gavin Leatherwood and Victoria Wood, for example, are quite good as John and Michael Darling. So, too, is Patrick Richwood who plays Captain Hook’s smarmy right hand man, Mr. Smee. And Cathy Rigby gives a wonderfully fresh performance that belies the fact that she’s been doing the role off-and-on for a quarter of a century.
James Clow, however, doesn’t seem to have as much fun playing Capt. Hook as I would expect. And while the musical numbers are all top-notch, few of the Indians, Lost Boys or Pirates particularly stand out.
What does stand out, however, is John Iacovelli’s colorful, elaborate set.
“Peter Pan” runs Tue.-Sun. at the Fisher Theatre, Detroit, through Nov. 6. $30.50-$68. 313-872-1000. http://www.nederlanderdetroit.com.
The Bottom Line: Grab the nearest youngster or simply your inner child and treat them to an evening of entertaining live theater!

Preview: ‘Sex’
Virgins wanted for ‘Sex’ at Lansing’s Icarus Falling

It’s no secret that sex sells.
And that’s precisely what Artistic Director Jeff Croff is hoping will happen with Lansing-based Icarus Falling’s season of sex-themed comedies.
“We’ve never done a full comedy season,” Croff told Curtain Calls recently, “so we placed tongue firmly-in-cheek and made the theme ‘sex in all of its various forms and flavors.'”
For its opening show, Croff chose a script that meets yet another objective for IF’s 2005/06 season. “We wanted to find strong female roles, and when we started talking about strong women, that took us to Mae West. You don’t get bolder, brasher and tougher than she was. So why not do the first play she had written?”
That play was appropriately titled “Sex.” It tells the story of a hooker who follows the fleet to the Caribbean where she meets and falls in love with a Connecticut socialite who takes her home to meet his family. Needless to say, they aren’t thrilled.
Although the play sold like hotcakes on Broadway, it also landed West its author, producer, director and star in jail for public obscenity. “People were appalled that she was actually showing a prostitute in America, and on top of that, having a happy ending. Of course, eighty years later we had ‘Pretty Woman’ and a number of other shows where the hooker goes on to fame, fortune and endearment,” Croff said.
Although no one has yet called the theater to complain about “Sex,” what has surprised Croff are people’s reactions to that three-letter word. “It’s really astounding to me how much power that word has in today’s day and age.”
When people call to reserve tickets, for example, they pause before whispering the title of the show. “It’s said with a guilty glee,” Croff laughed. “It like their parents are looking over their shoulders and they have to hushedly whisper it out.”
Even the actors who Croff says are more than willing to tell you far too much about their private lives mention the show title in hushed tones.
And how are ticket sales going, Croff was asked? “It’s no surprise to anyone, but ‘Sex’ does seem to be selling. The interest I think is as good or even better than any other production we’ve had in that opening slot. The numbers of seats reserved are up, so apparently people travel in groups to go see ‘Sex’ ”
In keeping with the spirit and theme of the season, IF encourages all virgins to come see the show. “If someone comes and they are an IF virgin, all they have to do is tell us we’re not going to check and they’ll get in for half price,” Croff promised. “However, we do discourage them from trying to do it a second time. You can try, but we won’t really believe you.”
“Sex” continues through Sat., Oct 29 at the Creole Gallery, 1218 Turner St., Lansing. Tickets: $10. 517-290-4375. http://www.icarusfalling.com

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