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January 16, 2007 > Peter Pan - a musical worth crowing about

Peter Pan - a musical worth crowing about

By Janet Grant

With the opening of their newest musical Peter Pan, StarStruck Theatre asks the all important question, "Do you believe in magic?" After watching children fly, a dog acting as a nursemaid, a mother hiding a boy's shadow in a clothes drawer, and pirates doing the Tango, I would have to say a resounding, "Yes!"

Peter Pan was StarStruck's most challenging production to date. But under the able direction of Lori A. Stokes, the never-aging play by James M. Barrie took on a magic all its own in the intimate Jackson Theatre at Fremont's Ohlone College Smith Center. With flying effects by ZFX Flying Illusions, Inc., reality was suspended for a while as the Darling Children, Tinkerbell and Peter flew up and away to Neverland. Equally magical was the colorful world created by highly acclaimed scenic designer Andrea Bechert and scenic artist Stephen C. Wathen.

A 14-piece orchestra under the inspired music direction of the talented Nancy Godfrey provided a night of musical enchantment. And the spirited choreography of Jeanne Batacan-Harper paired with the vibrant costume designs of Angela Matthews supplied a real feast for the senses.

Featuring a cast of 50 of the Bay Area's most talented young performers, StarStruck proved once again why they are the premier youth theatre in the state. Even in a production where many of the actors are children, the quality of their performances belie their young ages.

Based on the Broadway production conceived, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, with music by Moose Charlap and lyrics by Carolyn Leigh (and additional music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green), this production stars the appealing Juliane Godfrey as Peter Pan. The talented daughter of StarStruck's music director, Juliane struck the right blend of naiveté, annoying childishness, and the impudence of youth. Her seamless acrobatics also made her a joy to watch and after a while, I really believed she was Peter Pan. Juliane's delivery of the tunes, "I Gotta Crow," "Neverland," and "I'm flying," were rich and on the mark.

Equally delightful were the Darling children, Michelle Foletta as Wendy, James Michael Jones as John, and Maddelyn Joly as Michael. Michelle conveyed the adventurous spirit and maternal leanings of Wendy while James struck the right cord as the proper English gentleman lurking just beneath the young boy. And Maddelyn as Michael was just...well, darling.

Jennifer Roderick as Mrs. Darling symbolized the consummate mother - worrying about the face in the window and what dangers it may hold in store for her children. Her expressions of motherly love were nicely captured in her rendition of the lullaby, "Tender Shepherd."

StarStruck veteran Ray Joseph played dual roles as the inflexible Mr. Darling and the comically villainous Captain Hook, both with equal aplomb. As Captain Hook he is the villain you really love to hate. So nasty, he would hold a teddy bear at sword point, and yet curiously tender in his joyful dancing of the Tango, Tarantella, and Waltz. Ray was also joined on stage by daughters Amy (Liza, and a Lost Boy) and Marie Clare (a Lost Boy).

Captain Hook's sidekick Smee was artfully played by Jordan Aragon. A likeable but fussy pirate, he was the perfect foil for Hook's devilish zaniness. Jordan's mother Julie was also part of the ensemble as a flutist in the orchestra.

And what about that ever childish, pixie dust carrying, jealous little, green glowing fairy Tinkerbell? She was spiritedly portrayed by Kelly Burns complete with foot stomping, face scrunching antics. She ardently reminded the audience that whenever a child failed to believe in fairies, a fairy would die.

The vigorous dance numbers of Tiger Lily (Jessica Christman) and her Indian tribe rounded out the evening. Especially fun and exhilarating was the "Ugh A Wug" number with Tiger Lily, Indians, Peter, and the Lost Boys, and some pretty mean drum stick tapping.

I have to admit though as exceptional as the human actors were, the real scene stealers of the evening were Nana the ever loyal and nurturing family dog (Daniel Harper) and the persistent Crocodile (Jordan Bickett) with a taste for a certain villainous pirate captain.

StarStruck Theatre has pulled out all the stops in their 2007 production of Peter Pan. And like Peter and the Lost Boys, they definitely have something to crow about. For a night of magic, come to a place where "dreams are born and time is never planned." You know where that is. The second star to the right, and on till morning.

Performance dates and times:
Friday, Jan 12, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Jan 13, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Jan 14, 2:00 p.m. - ASL interpreted performance
*Saturday, Jan 20, 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Jan 21, 2:00 p.m.
Friday, Jan 26, 7:30 p.m.
*Saturday, Jan 27, 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Jan 28, 2:00 p.m.

*Extra performances added to meet heavy ticket sales. Buy your tickets now to assure attendance!

All performances at:
Smith Center Ohlone College
43600 Mission Blvd., Fremont

Ticket Prices are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors/students and $15.00/children. Tickets are available by calling the box office at (510) 659-1319 or online at www.starstrucktheatre.org.






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