From the creators of the 2000 Olivier Award-winning Best Musical, Honk!, the now much-produced musical based on "The Ugly Duckling," comes another musical take on yet another classic tale — Peter Pan and Wendy, drawing on the beloved characters of J.M. Barrie.
Composer George Stiles and lyricist Anthony Drewe's adaptation of the Neverland tale get its American premiere at Philadelphia's Prince Music Theater, Dec. 11-29. Opening is Dec. 18.
Peter Pan and Wendy features a new score of 15 songs by Stiles and Drewe with a new book by Willis Hall, based on the Barrie story and play. The property is well known for its Broadway musical version by Carolyn Leigh and Moose Charlap (seen in revival in recent years with Cathy Rigby) and for the (unrelated) Disney animated feature. Prince Music Theater associate artistic director Ted Sperling helms the new musical for the Pennsylvania not-for-profit devoted to music theatre.
Rita Gardner (Broadway's Mornings at Seven, original Luisa in The Fantasticks) stars as the Storyteller, Christopher Innvar (Broadway's Les Misérables, Victor/Victoria) takes on Captain Hook and Mr. Darling, Romain Frugé (Broadway's The Full Monty, Tommy) plays his sideman, Smee, and Joanna Glushak (Broadway's Sweet Smell of Success, Sunday in the Park with George) takes on Mrs. Darling. Peter and Wendy are played by Michael Longoria and Erica Piccininni.
The design team includes Fred Kinney (sets), Howell Binkley (lights), Loyce Arthur (costumes) and Nick Kourtides (sound). Myra Bazell handles choreography. Puppets used the production are created by Philadelphia native Kim Meyer. The 14-piece orchestra plays orchestrations by John Cameron, with musical direction by Louis F. Goldberg. The cast totals 30, with more than a dozen local children involved.
The staging is set in post World War II London, a time of refugee children and absent parents.
Sticking with their track record for turning children's stories into musical theatre gold, Stiles and Drewe previously told Playbill On-Line (January 2002) they are creating the tentatively-titled Soho, a modern Cinderella tale "set in Soho, in an internet cafe." The Soho of the title is meant to be the London neighborhood, but Drewe said they are keeping it general enough that it could be set in the downtown Manhattan locale named for being south of Houston Street.
For tickets to Peter Pan and Wendy at the Prince Music Theater, 1412 Chestnut Street (at Broad Street) in Philadelphia, PA, call (215) 569-9700 or visit them online at www.princemusictheater.org.
— by Ernio Hernandez
and Kenneth Jones