PUTNEY — As Head of Performing Arts at The Grammar School choosing plays has come full circle for Alli Lubin. "Peter Pan" was the first play she cast for the independent school in Putney 23 years ago, and now she is bringing it back for this year's musical production, a 25-year tradition at the school.
Lubin's adaptation of Peter Pan as its producer and musical director is based on the script by Frederick Gaines from the book by J.M. Barrie. It continues to appeal to a child's and an adult's fantasy as a place where children never have to grow up, where the audience follows their adventures on the island of Neverland. It's still a place where the lost boys contend with pirates and the loyal Tinker Bell is at Pan's side, but with one notable difference that reflects the changes in attitudes over the last 23 years. Neverland resident, Tiger Lily is in a band of wild cats rather than the daughter of the chief of a Native American as in the original version.
There is no shortage of seasoned professionals in Pan's production team. It is directed by Rebecca Waxman who is no stranger to The Grammar School's stage, creating this fresh take on this beloved story, and Shoshi Bass, a familiar face at New England Youth Theater and Sandglass Theater, is the choreographer. Walter Sayre, a retired music teacher of 35 years in Walpole is the piano accompanist and the lyrics and musical arrangement of "Tiger Strut" is by musician Peter Siegel of the Gaslight Tinkers.
The cast of Pan are all of the 32 seventh and eighth graders of The Grammar School. Fitting since Pan explores the same terrain these middle schoolers are crossing now: that wild and thorny territory between youth and adulthood.
Lubin said that there are two casts for the show to give everyone of the students a chance to play a part. It is a requirement for each student to be on stage in one of the casts, even if it is just as part of the chorus for those who are less inclined to be in the spotlight, and to take part in a technical role behind the scene in the other cast, be it lighting, sound, or scenery. Students also may take on some serious responsibilities. Maddie Aho and Garret Weil act as stage managers, and Amelia Opsahl and Viva Vadim are assistant stage managers. Lubin said, "The students learn from one another, the theater teaches them so much. It is teamwork based on trust and dedication that gives them self confidence."
Since the staging area itself is not high enough for flying apparatus, optical illusions are used to allude to flying for Pans Ella Warner of cast A and Abijah Palmer-Guest of cast B, and lighting is used to portray Tinker Bell.
The following Grammar School is as follows: Storytellers are Cassidy Martin (With No.1 Twin) and Maddie Aho (with Cat); Wendy is played by Izlin Weinberg and Ella Bursky; John is played by Gus Powers and Quinn Houston; Michael is played by Sky Borax and Robert Racco; Mr. Darling is played by Quinn Houston (with Starkey) and Gus Powers (with Curly); Mrs. Darling is played by Viva Vadim (with Cat) and Amelia Opsahl (with Cat); Nana is Bayley Sbardellati (with Tootles) and Virginia Ware (with Jukes); Jane is Addy Bateman (with Cat) and Addy Bateman (with Tiger Lily); Peter Pan is played by Ella Warner and Abijah Palmer-Guest; Tootles is Bayley Sbardellati (with Nana) and Bayley Sbardellati; No. 1 Twin is Cassidy Martin (with Storyteller) and Izlin Weinberg; No. 2 Twin is Bryn Adam; Slightly is Abijah Palmer-Guest and Ella Warner; Nibs is played by Alex Hrabchak and Sky Borax; Curly is played by Robert Racco and Gus Powers (with Darling); Hook is Liam Fletcher and Valentin Klug; Smee is Garrett Weil and Myles Kaplan; Cecco is Ethan Young; Starkey is Quinn Houston (with Darling) and Matthew Brooks; Cookson and James Preston; Jukes is played by Virginia Ware (with Nana); Mullins is Flan Sheahan and Ethan Cameron; Tiger Lily is Charlie Acker and Addy Bateman; Band Of Cats are Addy Bateman, Charlie Acker, Samantha Quain, Samantha Quain, Griselda Luther-Houghton, Griselda Luther-Houghton, Ella Bursky, Maddie Aho (With Storyteller), Viva Vadim (With Darling) and Amelia Opsahl (With Darling); Mermaid is played by Amelia Opsahl and Viva Vadim; Crocodile is Ethan Young; and Percussion is Flan Sheahan, Sky Borax.
For Lubin, choosing Peter Pan for this year was an easy choice. She knew it was perfect for the talented cast she had, having known many of these students since kindergarten, for this musical in which the leads had the majority of the songs. She knew that emotionally it would be a fun choice.
Peter Pan will run at The Grammar School on Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. For seat reservations call 802-387-5364 (highly recommended). Tickets at the door are $10 for adults, $5 for children and alumnae or $25 for families. Children, and children-at-heart, will be captivated by the production.
Contact Cicely M. Eastman at 802-254-2311 ext. 261.