When he was 12 years old, Paata Tsikurishvili was introduced to the story of Peter Pan on stage.
“My dad took me and I just loved the story; the little conflicts with their parents, you want to do something your way because you think you’re grown up, but you’re not, and that was fascinating for me,” he says. “It was a fantasy. You could fly, you can always stay young and without knowing what it really all meant at the time, I just was blown away by it all.”
In Tsikurishvili’s opinion, Peter Pan is akin to any Shakespearean play; a world classic, known by just about everyone with a magical story that touches the hearts of both young and old.
That’s why he was excited to direct his own version of the story, with a wordless The Adventures of Peter Pan taking flight at the Synetic Theatre through Nov. 19.
“It’s great material for us. There’s visual and magical realities that make this just a wonderful show,” he says. “Plus, having Alex Mills in the company [playing Peter Pan], there was no way I could pass up that opportunity, so I just decided to go for it.”
Mills has a deep history with the theater. A Fredericksburg native, the actor began working with Synetic in 2008 and has performed lead roles in Tale of Two Cities, Jekyll & Hyde and many others. He’s been nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for playing Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
“Alex has a skillset that is perfect—he transforms on the stage,” Tsikurishvili says. “He has great positivity, he has charm, he has depth and he’s just perfect for the role.”
The D.C. theater community has had no shortage of Peter Pan stories on stage in recent years, and Tsikurishvili knew he wanted to offer something that would be unique.
“There are lots of productions around and they all do a great job, so creating something different was important,” he says. “Synetic is a visual and physical storytelling company, so that already gives us an opportunity to do something different. At the same time, we did some things that I think will be very interesting for young kids, as well as for grownups.”
In the show, Peter Pan and his crew battle the delightfully sinister Captain Hook with a set of acrobatic movements that are certain to entertain. Add in Tinkerbell, the Darling children and the Lost Boys, and you have a collection of audience faves that leave audiences on the edge of their seats, Tsikurishvili believes.
The Adventures of Peter Pan
closes November 19, 2017
Details and tickets
“We know how to create magic on stage; we love that,” Tsikurishvili says. “The biggest challenge was figuring out how to fly. We tried so many things. We didn’t want to do what most theater companies do, so we found a very simple thing that is really effective.”
Tsikurishvili is known for his love of dark drama and portraying those emotions on the stage through his actors, so Peter Pan was something of a different play for him. He says the challenge was to make sure it wasn’t too much emotion for youngsters, yet to be sure there was enough to interest the grownups in the crowd.
“It was a challenge but we were able to do a little bit of both,” he says. “We all had a fantastic time getting to that point.”
The show also stars Ryan Sellers as Captain Hook, Kathy Gordon as Wendy Darling, Thomas Beheler as John Darling, Scott Whalen as Michael Darling and Nathan Weinberger as Smee. Ana Tsikurishvili (seen in the photo above) plays Tinkerbell.
Harking back to his earliest memories of the show, Tsikurishvili believes that the show resonates with so many because people have similar dreams about the idea of Neverland.
“As we grow up, when you think about Neverland, people stop talking about it for some reason, but we feel deep in our hearts that time is ticking. Peter Pan is very metaphorical in that he doesn’t want to grow up and deal with everyday things,” he says. “No one wants to get old—we don’t like that—and that adds to the emotions.”
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