Off the Hook

Posted May 28, 2009 in Arts & Culture

LifeHouse Theater in Redlands, known for their original versions of popular themed musicals, has taken a trip to Neverland with a perky reworked performance of Peter Pan, directed and choreographed by Dustin Ceithamer. Written by Jordan Beck with music by Jordan May and orchestrations by Nolan Livesay, the story is based on the classic tale by James M. Barrie of a boy who refuses to grow up and embroils the Darling children in a series of adventures.


The plot continues to captivate audiences young and old because, after all, who doesn’t dream of fighting pirates and flying amongst the clouds?  This newly-written score is beautifully orchestrated for this production. The actors appeared comfortable with the music and moved over difficult lines with considerable ease, especially the young Peter Pan. Although the Darling family (Wendy, John and Michael), the Lost Boys and Indians were all well played, the most enjoyable moments of this show are provided by the Pirates. This small, but comical band of miscreants upstages their dear Captain Hook at every turn. Smee, played by Wiley, was the best-written character in the show, and this talented actor delivered his comic pauses just as expertly as he did his lines. Peter Pan, played by Jonathan Blair, is enjoyable as the daring, cocky hero, a role that is usually reserved for a female in most Pan productions (two well-known examples being Mary Martin, who was cast for the 1950s Broadway production, later followed by Cathy Rigby in the ‘70s).


Dustin Ceithamer’s choreography for this production is delightful and lively throughout the entire show. Once again, the Pirates, with their complex tap numbers and choreography that spoofs well-known musical dances, steal the show.


The major downfall of this staging of Peter Pan is that no one actually flies. Instead, the actors swing on ropes (think a tire swing hanging from a tree in your backyard) while singing “I’m flying.” The attempt is commendable but disappointing. Without his aerial ability, Peter becomes just another lost boy with an inflated ego.


Aside from this, the Beck and May production of Peter Pan is an enjoyable family show well worth a trip to the Redlands LifeHouse Theater. May it soar to greater heights in the future.  


Peter Pan at LifeHouse Theater, 1135 N. Church St., Redlands, (909) 335-3037,; thru Sun, June 14; Fri, 7:30PM, Sat, 2:15PM and 7:30PM, Sun, 2:15PM, special interpreted performance for the deaf Sat., May 30, 7:30PM. Advance tickets: $6-$9 (children), $12-$18 (adults), group rates.


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