Grace Tadajweski l Editor-In-Chief
With many hardworking and boisterous mates within “Peter Pan,” the cast is readying to drop their anchor and bask in the goodness of arrival.
After auditions took place over two months ago, the cast now readies for their opening performance of “Peter Pan” on Thursday, Nov. 17. Having worked to put together the play for so long, the cast has learned all of the ins and outs of their characters.
“(My favorite scene is when) Wendy and Peter meet,” said junior Maddie Barnhart who plays Peter Pan. “He's very childlike which is a fun thing to play around with.”
During the play, Wendy, played by Leah Jaeger, struggles with the division between being young and growing up.
“I think I really enjoy playing Wendy because she’s very in awe of everything that she gets to see,” said sophomore Jaeger. “It’s very fun getting to play someone who is kind of just discovering this whole new part of her, this whole new place.”
The adapted structure of the show plays on Wendy’s division as the entire story is told from the children’s nursery.
“My favorite part about playing John is getting to revisit some aspects of my own childhood while also being able to play some aspects of childhood that were completely different from my own,” said senior Alex Hanley. “John is a very committed character throughout the play, so I have a lot of fun with all his British mannerisms and childish insults.”
While the movie version of “Peter Pan” features a journey across various backgrounds and settings, the original book version, the source of director Tara Pohlkotte’s differing idea, demonstrates Neverland as a place that seems nearly real, like the nursery.
Staying in the nursery throughout the show allows the story to be seen from a very imaginative and children-based direction as one can imagine that the Darling children simply made up this story. Nearly all the characters in the show are children. Thus, many foster similar feelings about getting to play their character in a more free-spirited and jumpy manner.
“I think it's fun to interact with others when you get to do a bunch of things,” said freshman Ava Pohlkotte who plays Michael. “I play a kid, so it's been fun to be little, whiny, and annoying.”
Because of her young character, Ava Pohlkotte noted that her biggest challenge is staying busy on stage as she tries to truly embody the young and excited character. She finds it difficult to stay on top of her lines and her busy body at the same time.
“In order to play a 10-year-old child, you have to forget that you're in a play,” said Hanley. “It’s difficult for me to not constantly be thinking about what my next blocking is or when my next line is. Forgetting about all of that and letting the roll become natural has been the hardest part for me.”
The Darling children are comprised of Michael, John, and Wendy, with Michael being the youngest. Along with the addition of the Lost Boys, the children have tons of fun throughout the show.
“My favorite one (scene) has to be the fight scene on the Jolly Roger,” said Hanley. “They're all such talented comedic actors that it takes the scene to the next level, and I'm always trying my best not to laugh myself while the scene is happening.”
During this scene, the Lost Boys, Michael, and John are tied in a circle and must keep shuffling to the front to speak. Similar to Hanley, Ava Pohlkotte and Jaeger’s favorite scenes also feature the Lost Boys.
“I really love the scenes that are ensembles with the Lost Boys or all the pirates when you get all of the students,” said Tara Pohlkotte. “I really also love the tender moments.”
In contrast to the playful ensemble scenes, Tara Pohlkotte’s love for sweet scenes, such as those featuring Mrs. Darling, centers around showing a different perspective of Mrs. Darling’s life and feelings compared to what is normally featured.
The play most often features funny moments, but it does highlight some scenes with more serious emotion.
“(My favorite part of Peter that I get to embody is) probably his more emotional side,” said Barnhart. “It only comes out a few times during the show, but when it does, it's really strong and has such a good meaning behind it.”
Barnhart has struggled to maintain Peter’s beloved character while also adding some of her own personality into his portrayal. Jaeger stated that it is always difficult to take on a new role, for it is like taking on a different version of yourself.
“I think with our show it’s not exactly like the original Peter Pan script, so sure, Wendy still is growing up, she’s struggling at being the older sister,” said Jaeger. “But, this is a whole different version of Wendy than you’re used to seeing, so I think it’s a little different trying to follow the original character that you might see in the movie versus this.”
Although there are clear differences between the Peter Pan movie and play, the cast shared unanimous thoughts on their likeness for the different stage setup. The set features hiding spots, moving pieces, and projections that reflect the Neverland-ish environment.
“The set that has been put together for the production is wonderful this year,” said Hanley. “Every single part of the set is used in a unique way and illustrates the story perfectly.”
As the play progresses, the realness of Neverland within the nursery becomes increasingly real through the use of more elements. The set also features many pieces that the characters move themselves to best reflect the scene.
“I love the setup we have because it gives a lot of room to play around and explore during certain scenes,” said Barnhart. “It’s definitely a struggle to make room for some larger scenes though.”
Before their opening night, the cast must spend the last few weeks getting down the details and practicing with dress rehearsals. According to Tara Polkhotte, the last weeks before the show are crazy.
“When we are together in the auditorium that first night with all the hard work in, everybody ready to go, and just watching it (the show), it's scary, but it's also this really amazing release to just let the students be in charge,” said Tara Pohlkotte. “That's a really fun part of the process.”
On opening night, Barnhart is excited to see how people react to the more recognizable scenes and the adapted scenes in the story. Stressing her love for her cast mates, Jaeger thinks that seeing all of their hard work in the show will produce fulfilling effect.
“I think I am just most excited to really bring this story to life,” said Jaeger. “I think as we get closer it just gets better and better.”
Ava Pohlkotte stated that opening night is both fun and terrifying.
“It's always the most unreal experience to see the audience when the curtain opens and knowing that they are here to see all the work you've put in over the past few months,” said Hanley. “You can feel it with all of the cast when the show begins, the nervous anticipation for how you're going to perform.”
A well-executed opening night relies on the group’s closeness. All cast members produced similar accounts of their love for each other and the group as a whole.
“The cast is my family,” said Barnhart. “I love playing around with them between scenes and getting to see them explore and learn to love their characters.”
The cast gathers a variety of people that may not have interacted in school if it weren’t for the play. Additionally, much of the cast is comprised of underclassmen.
“They're all such good people, and I've never experienced rehearsals the way I have during this production,” said Hanley. “Sometimes, a scene has to be stopped running halfway through because we're all laughing so hard to each other.”
Jaeger reflected that spending so much time with people helps you form such close relationships with people you might not have talked to otherwise.
“Over the course of working with them (cast) and seeing them, one of my favorite parts of it isn't as much to do with actual technical skill as much as that like camaraderie and bonding,” said Tara Pohlkotte.