'Peter Pan' by H-K Players
Nancy Sasso Janis
If growing up means
It would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree,
I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up
Not me! - “I Won’t Grow Up” Music by Morris “Moose” Charlap and lyrics by Carolyn Leigh
Higganum, CT - The H-K Players presented ‘Peter Pan’ in Haddam-Killingworth High School auditorium this weekend. The students had clearly worked hard to produce this three-act musical that continues to delight audiences of all ages. Who can resist the boy who refuses to grow up and the charm of Wendy, John and Michael Darling who along with the Lost Boys do battle with Captain Hook and his band of pirates? What fun it is to follow the antics of the fairy Tinker Bell and watch the dance moves of Tiger Lily and her tribe.
Peter Pan was first introduced by JM Barrie in 1901 in the short story, Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. The stage version was introduced in 1904 but the full musical version wasn’t created until 1954. It was directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins and starred Mary Martin. Famous Peter Pans to follow have included Sandy Duncan and Olympic gymnast Cathy Rigby who won the Tony in 1998.
The H-K production did not include any real flying, but there was the suggestion of it with two well-placed seesaws and large shadow puppets carried through the aisles. The rest of the production values were of so high quality that I didn’t really miss the hooking up to wires. Wonderful costumes and impressive sets lit very well and a super live orchestra featuring mostly student musicians partnering with a few professionals made for a great show. The closing night audience delighted in clapping to prove that we all believed in fairies.
Marcy Webster was the director of ‘Peter Pan’ and also served as musical director. She had the students use the entire space of the auditorium most effectively. Timothy D’Amato was the outstanding pit orchestra director. Lighting by Jim Kane and Marianne Herbst was very impressive in this very large space and sound by Mr. Kane and Grace DiMatteo was mostly effective. Missy Thompson is credited with the hand-painted scenic mural and props;the rest of the set was large and well-built. House manager Emily Bourdon was in charge of lobby design. Christina Barragan worked wonders with her costume design; Peter’s costumes was both magical and functional. Kudos to the choreographer Kate Ingram on her excellent designs wonderfully executed by every dancer.
Brandon Iovene, an H-K junior, took on the role of Captain Hook and was comfortable with any of the tempos for his various dances. Isabella “Bella” D’Ottavio was a strong singer as the loving mother Mrs. Darling and changed her costumes quickly to appear as one of the strongest pirates in that ensemble. This senior plans to attend college in the fall as a musical theatre major and will do well. Giovanni “Gio” Casella first appeared as Mr. Darling (“a little less noise”) and then became Curly, a member of the Lost Boy ensemble.
Senior Kyle Kleinschmidt brought out the physical comedy as Hook’s sidekick Smee and Arjun Badami was Starkey. Olivia “Livv” Harry appeared as Liza the maid who goes along with the children to Neverland: this senior was both a strong singer and actress and also danced as a member of the Indian ensemble. Abigail Manley, a sophomore, appeared at the end as Jane Darling but was otherwise one of the dancing Indians.
Abbey-Rose Popalizio as Tiger Lily was a magnificent dancer but she did not sing. The Darling children were played by sophomore Elizabeth McManus as a lovely Wendy, freshman Garrison Laudano as John and Gunnar Howes, a fourth grade student from Haddam Elementary making his debut in a musical, as the youngest son Michael.
Ashlyn O’Boyle, an H-K senior, played Noodler the Pirate and plans to be an English major in college next year. Other seniors included Megan Reed as a pirate, Kaleigh Albert as the 1st twin, Gina Sonski as a pirate, Freddy Stock who served as stage manager, Emily Lovelace who worked with Maranda Morell on the green light of Tinker Bell, Ben Nicholas in the crew, and Ben Blair, a member of the crew who was the show’s blacksmith. The seniors are credited for their leadership ability in the director’s notes; Mrs. Webster writes that they could have directed this show themselves but kept a teamwork mindset throughout the rehearsal process. All of the seniors were recognized by name after curtain call at the final show and presented with a gift by Mr. Iovene.
Cristina Barragan donned a huge costumes to play Nana, a Newfoundland dog and Alicia Sleight crawled around as the ticking Crocodile. Devin Coon appeared as Slightly, Ben Marchetti played Nibs, Logan Hill was the 2nd Twin, and Alexandra Decrosta played Tiger Star. Wyatt Morrell played Mullins and Charis Caples was Jukes. The littlest Lost Boy was played by young Vincent Salamone.
I was most impressed with the performance of Allegra Rosa in the title role of Peter Pan. This junior at H-K High School already has her Actor’s Equity Card and has credits at Hartford Stage (Fan in the annual ‘A Christmas Carol’) and Goodspeed Opera House (Bielke in ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’) She also has a slew of impressive performances as a singer and it showed in every musical number as Peter, traditionally played by a female actor. Ms. Rosa is a natural onstage and moved like an experienced dancer in this role; she lit up the stage with her talent and was nicely supported by her classmates as she did.