Theatre Review: ‘Peter Pan’ at Syracuse Stage
Syracuse Stage and the Syracuse University Department have once again brought a fabulous and entertaining musical to audiences in Syracuse, New York for their annual holiday production. This year, audiences have the pleasure of seeing the Broadway musical adaptation of Sir J.M. Barrie’s classic tale of Peter Pan, wonderfully directed by Paul Barnes. Full of adventure, captivating music, and amazing choreography, this is a holiday treat of a show that shouldn’t be missed.
Everyone knows the classic childhood story of Peter Pan – the boy who will never grow up – that takes the Darling children on an adventure to Never Neverland. Wendy (Delphi Borich), John (Matthew Caraccioli), and Michael (Séamus Gailor) encounter fairies, pirates, Indians, and a group of lost boys while traveling through this fantasy land with the famous Peter Pan (Troy Hussmann).
Full of adventure, captivating music, and amazing choreography, this is a holiday treat of a show that shouldn’t be missed.
However, there is so much more to the story as presented by Syracuse Stage. Paul Barnes’ direction and creative concept makes it a lot more relatable to the 21st century audiences. For example, he introduces Tiger Lily (Ana Marcu) as a strong leader of a troupe of women warriors which was “inspired by the popular mythical aspects of J. R. R. Tolkein’s novel The Lord of the Rings.” This additional element to the character really added a creative and unique layer to the production. This production also features a male playing the role of Peter Pan – a role that is traditionally portrayed by a female actress since Mary Martin originated the role on Broadway. The choice to have a male play the role of Peter provided the relationship between Peter and Wendy a lot more room for flirtation and honesty. In turn, this really adds to the characterization of these beloved children’s fairytale characters.
As Peter Pan, Troy Hussmann brings such energy and joy to the boy that vows to never grow up. His child-like playfulness on stage along with his remarkable vocals allows the character to fully come to life. He shines in every moment he is on stage. A favorite moment is when he beautifully belts out “I’m Flying” even while being suspended above the stage. A standout in Syracuse Stage’s production of Hairspray last year in the role of Link Larkin, Hussmann has once again brought joy and entertainment to the annual holiday show.
Delphi Borich is charming, likeable, and adorable as Wendy Darling. Her sweetness and spunkiness is spot on in her portrayal. Borich is a senior at Syracuse University, but she is able to make a very convincing Wendy.
Donald Corren plays Mr. Darling and Pan’s nemesis, Captain Hook, and he excels at both. An excellent character actor, Corren transforms himself from the uptight and proper English father to the infamous Captain Hook in a way that is particularly believable. As Captain Hook, he is very entertaining to watch as he tangos along with the pirates and as he sings “Oh, My Mysterious Lady” along with Peter Pan and Tiger Lily.
Ana Marcu plays Tiger Lily with such fierceness and confidence and leaves a lasting impression. Her dancing and acting is excellent. “Warrior Song” – featuring Tiger Lily and Peter Pan along with the female troupe of warriors, lost boys, and Darling children – provides a show-stopping number exquisitely choreographed by Anthony Salatino. Each cast member uses drumsticks and dances and it’s among the moments that are the most visually interesting. Brian Cimmet’s orchestra also makes this number one to remember.
Other standouts include Kraig Swartz as Smee; Christine Toy Johnson as Mrs. Darling and Wendy Grown Up; Séamus Gailor as Michael; Matthew Caracciolo as John; and Kim Roth as Liza.
The show is not only made up of fabulous actors, but also an amazing set that really adds to the delightful trip to Never Neverland. ZFX Flying Effects, a performer-flying-effects company came to Syracuse Stage to assist in making Peter Pan really take off. As Peter and the children soar through the skies to Neverland, the night skies designed by Linda Buchanan are thrilling and captivating to watch. The creative set pieces move with such ease to create a magical land. There’s, of course, a window that opens for Peter to fly through in the Darling home, a pirate ship, and the Lost Boys hideout, and all are presented in a fantastic way.
The show necessitates the inclusion of many actors to comprise the band of pirates, the group of lost boys, Tiger Lily’s troupe of warriors, the Darling family, and animals. With 25 talented Syracuse University Department of Drama students making up the cast alongside professional Equity actors, it is not surprising how wonderfully done the show is. The end result is a production that you would expect to see on Broadway.
It is the perfect show for everybody; it is a fairytale for the young, the old, and the young at heart.
Running Time: Two and a half hours with one twenty minute intermission.
The Syracuse Stage production of Peter Pan runs through January 3, 2016.
Treat yourself: Go see Syracuse Stage and SU Drama's 'Peter Pan' (Review)
By Tony Curulla | Contributing writer The Post-Standard
on December 05, 2015 at 1:59 PM, updated December 05, 2015 at 2:02 PM
Way back in season 2000-2001, co-productions by Syracuse Stage and the Syracuse University Department of Drama began with a production of "Peter Pan", and now, guess who's back!
The two producing entities opened another co-production of the Sir J.M. Barrie classic for their annual holiday offering on Friday evening to the delight of a very enthusiastic audience, and it's definitely not one to be missed.
With some 34 characters including Peter's band of Lost Boys, Captain Hook and his quasi- threatening group of scalawags, and Tiger Lily's Troupe of female warriors, in addition to Peter and the Darling family, director Paul Barnes (directed "White Christmas" and "The Miracle Worker" at Syracuse Stage) and choreographer/fight director Anthony Salatino (Drama Faculty) might have donned cop uniforms, replete with nightsticks and whistles, to direct this heavy stage traffic. Judging from the results of Friday's opener, their efforts were obvious with a performance that had the clockwork precision of a Broadway production.
Ever since Mary Martin originated the role on Broadway, a female actor has traditionally played the role of Peter, however, one of the facets that makes this production more "real" is the casting of Troy Hussmann, a male senior musical theater major, as Peter. In addition, it gives more credence to Peter being the leader of a band of Lost Boys, and to the intimated, flirtatious relationship that develops between him and Wendy Darling (Delphi Borich), the oldest of the Darling children who fly to Neverneverland with Peter.
And speaking of flying, there's plenty of it in this production. With the aid of the ZFX Flying Effects of Louisville, Kentucky, the centerpiece attraction is brought to life with characters flying over the stage and out toward the audience, utilizing bodily movements choreographed in time with musical numbers. Scenic designer Linda Buchanan's synchronized set operations, alone, from windows opening, to the sliding back wall transforming into the open night sky with four actors held aloft, is testament to the sophistication of this production. So, the thin cables are barely visible. Who cares? I bought it. So will you. It's just simply stunning!
Troy Hussmann brings not only a celebrated boyishness and athleticism to the role of Peter, but also a very considerable vocal ability as demonstrated in several numbers both with feet planted on the stage and while harnessed in flight. If the character of Peter Pan is partially a messenger of joy, Hussmann certainly filled the theater with it on opening night.
Despite the show's title, the actor's plum role has always been that of Captain Hook, and Equity actor Donald Corren, who transforms himself from proper, officious father, Mr. Darling, to a pampered, somewhat gender-bent "evil" pirate, is nothing short of mesmerizing as he struts about in sartorial finery, barking orders, and delivering, with delicious pronunciation, some of his finer verbal ironies.
Other Equity actors joining this co-production were Christine Toy Johnson (children's mother and Wendy grown up) and Kraig Swartz playing the part of Pirate Smee, Hook's "lieutenant" of sorts.
Other performances of note came from Drama Department students Delphi Borich (Wendy) who was able to dial the years back a bit to create a believable Wendy, both visually and audibly, and Ana Marcu whose sexually-infused Tiger Lily, the leader of the female warriors, conveyed a joyfulness and determination in movement as her warriors united with Peter's Lost Boys to defeat Hook and his band.
There isn't a wasted moment in this production -- and I really mean that -- with the large doses of kinetic energy displayed, particularly in the several, but all different, dance sequences. Curren is a joy to watch as he, Smee, and the pirates waltz and tango, and even throw in a little tarantella. Marcu and her band of females provide hot and snappy movement, a la Broadway style, and together with Peter and the Lost Boys, perform a stunning number including the use of drumsticks by each member, pounding out the beat in a tribal style as Brian Cimmet's nine-piece orchestra provides excellent delivery of the interesting score.
"Peter Pan" may be a story one associates with one's childhood, but make no mistake, this is no production strictly for children. This has all the elements you expect from a professionally directed, choreographed, produced, and performed production. In that regard, this is "adult theater" fare.
Length of Performance: Two hours, 30 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission.
Attendance: Near-capacity on opening night.
Family Guide: Everyone goes to this one!
Info: Syracuse Stage and the Syracuse University Department of Drama present "Peter Pan" from November 28 (previews) (Dec.4-opening) through January 3, 2016. at the Archbold Theatre, 820 East Genesee St., Syracuse.
Neverland comes to Syracuse Stage in beautifully designed ‘Peter Pan’
December 12, 2015 By Lateshia D. Beachum
When: Nov. 28, 2015 – Jan. 3, 2016
James M. Barrie’s “Peter and Wendy,” “The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up,” and “Peter Pan” have seen their fair share of retelling and reimagining throughout the years. Disney remade the classic in cartoon form in 1953, NBC aired live broadcasts of the performance in 1955 and some years later starring Mary Martin. Spielberg breathed life into the story of a boy who never wanted to grow up in 1991 with A-list actors.
This month, Syracuse Stage and Syracuse University Drama present a co-production of a remarkable musical rendition about Peter Pan, and the people who love, and whom he fails to love in return due to his commitment to remaining a kid.
The play opens with the Darling children in their bedroom, imitating their parents dancing at a ball. The young actors are wonderful in their portrayal of the whimsical nature that’s attached to childhood imitation of adulthood. Séamus Gailor (Matthew Darling) and Matthew Caraccioli (John Darling) hold their own as the younger siblings of Wendy Darling (played by enchanting Syracuse University senior Delphi Borich). The young actors are free of the stiltedness that is often associated with fledgling thespians, and that execution allows the audience to follow them with the wonderful naivety that is childhood.
The scenic backdrop of the actors is equally strong. The audience is introduced to the Darling children, their dog and their maid as night stars equally glow with the long white curtains that swirl and hang around the large, center stage window. There is indeed a children’s bedroom, and the set design doesn’t fret viewers with using their imagination with paltry scenery. Imagination is best used for the awe-inducing flying sequences and for Peter Pan’s mischief in a gorgeously- designed Neverland.
Syracuse Stage not only ups the quality on set design by Linda Buchanan, but Director Peter Barnes decides to do something many Peter Pan rendition haven’t: have a male play the titular role. Petite or small-framed actresses are usually the ones singing about how much being an adult is terrible. With Barnes’ casting, the audience is offered another level of authenticity that even some of the best actresses might have not been able to portray. Moreover, it lets the audience see a glimpse of the sexual attraction that’s usually one-sided between Peter and Wendy.
Senior musical theatre major Troy Hussmann does a commendable job in portraying Peter Pan. He captures the rambunctiousness, melancholy and adventurous spirit that’s essential to the Peter Pan character. It takes his first song, “I Gotta Crow,” to really accept the telling of an adolescent boy through the portrayal of a young man who looks more like a boy-band member. But once he playfully dedicates himself to crow in the show’s second number, we see Peter; and we’re ready for him to take us on a flying expedition to Neverland.
It’s in Neverland where we meet a cocky, yet mildly self-loathing Captain Hook (played by Donald Corren, who also plays Mr. Darling) and his merry men. Each scene with Hook and his blind followers is full of laughs, great comedic execution of timing and choreography. This crew is pathetic, but hilariously so, and well-acted.
We also meet yet another casting shake up by the brilliant Barnes: the casting of Tiger Lily as a speaking character leading a group of warrior women. With this casting, Barnes seeks to make this adaptation of Peter Pan’s story more accepting and less racially offensive as it source material.
Tiger Lily (played by senior theatre major Ana Marcu) portrays Tiger Lily with dignity and honor. She is fierce, fun, smart and always ready to break into a dance number with her followers. The choreography with Tiger Lily and her crew is some of the best in the show, and possibly some of the best Syracuse Stage has seen from a production. The clapping, stomping and chanting are enthralling and do their job in keeping up the magic when Peter Pan isn’t on stage sprinkling pixie dust.
Although the entertainment that the young women provide is also strong, their moves can still leave one to ask if the Native American culture was infused in their steps as they were more reminiscent of college step dance show by a traditionally black organization. Nevertheless, the magic isn’t lost.
Peter Pan might be one of the top productions to see in Syracuse, in terms of actors, set design and overall experience. If you want a Broadway experience, just travel down the road to the Neverland that the Syracuse Stage artfully built.