The moment you take your first steps inside the 100-foot-high tent and the one-of-a-kind Threesixty Theatre, you know this isn’t going to be your usual production of Peter Pan. As someone who has seen both the Sandy Duncan and Cathy Rigby Broadway versions of Peter Pan numerous times, there’s not much about the show that comes as a surprise to me, which is why this version was so enthralling.
Taking advantage of the world’s first 360-degree CGI theatre set, director Thom Southerland creates a level of excitement that just couldn’t be matched by a typical stage show. As Peter Pan and the Darling children travel from their bedroom to Neverland, the actors are hoisted high in the air to fly over London, the circular backdrop swirling around the audience as the actors soar up to the top of the tent, out over the stars, then on to the home of the Lost Boys.
Sarah Charles is absolutely lovely as Wendy, the oldest Darling child who becomes a mother to all the Lost Boys. It’s she who seems to hold the true power over the tribe and comes across as much more brave and the one to be reckoned with. Charles sings an enchanting lullaby to the boys, one of the few songs in the production.
As with most versions of Peter Pan, Captain Hook must be somewhat of an over-the-top, villainous ham, and Stephen Carlile has plenty of fun playing to the crowd and snarking through his lines. At one point he asks a child in the audience if he “fears him” and the cascade of “no’s” plays right into the audience’s enjoyment.
Kids will also love—though hopefully not emulate—Jessie Sherman’s bratty Tinker Bell, who takes pleasure in Wendy’s pain and jealously tries to be the only “girl” in Peter’s life with tantrums and silly faces.
Daniel Rosales, in the role of Peter Pan, portrays a somewhat lackluster version of the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. While it’s fun to see him fly, he never seems to embody the leader that Pan is supposed to be and even in vital scenes, like his battles with Captain Hook, a hero never emerges.
What does emerge, to the delight of all, is the Hook-seeking crocodile, a giant puppet which a huge roar that takes two crew members to make him glide around the entire stage.
While the tale sticks pretty close to J.M. Barrie’s original version, there are a few liberties taken by book adapters Thom Southerland and Tanya Ronder, and the production becomes more about style than substance.
But that’s okay, because the young ones in the audience were laughing along, their faces filled with amazement.
The CGI projections were used brilliantly during a story of two mermaids, played with skillful bewilderment by Elisa Penello and Megan Godin. The two perform a dazzling acrobatic routine straight out of the Cirque Du Soleil handbook, while images from under the sea and water flutters around them.
PETER PAN IN THE 360
June 24 – August 23
The Three Sixty Theater
Tysons Corner Center
8200 Watson Street
2 hours with 1 intermission
Tuesdays thru Sundays
Tickets: $25 – $100
And speaking of acrobats, the ensemble of Lost Boys do some mighty fine tricks, too, doing flips and high flying feats around a pole that doubles for a tent house.
As J.M. Barrie first imagined, Peter Pan is a show for kids first and foremost and overall, the show was extremely entertaining with plenty of laughs for both young and old.
Peter Pan adapted from the story by J.M. Barrie by Tanya Ronder . Directed by Thom Southerland . Featuring Dan Rosales (Peter Pan), Stephen Carlile (Captain Hook/Mr. Darling), Liam Fennecken (Smee), Annapolis native Sarah Charles (Wendy Darling), Scott Weston (Michael Darling), John Alati (John Darling), Jessie Sherman (Tinker Bell), Hannah Jane McMurray (Mrs. Darling), and Andreas Wyder (Bill Jukes/Skylights). Rounding out the cast are Mark Curtis Ferrando, Megan Godin, Ryan Halsaver, Adam Kezele, Gabe Martinez, Elisa Penello, Porsha Putney, Joshua Redfield, Taylor Simmons, Dan Wilt, and P. Tucker Worley. Choreography/Movement: Gypsy Snider . Set, Costume and 3D Projections . William Dudley . Produced by Threesixty Entertainment . Reviewed by Keith Loria.