James Madison High School
"Second star to the right and straight on till morning!" Every child knows these words are the way to get to Neverland, but if someone followed them this past weekend, they may have found it led them straight to Oakton High School's production of Wendy and Peter Pan.
Written by Ella Hickson, Wendy and Peter Pan is a modern retelling of J. M. Barrie's adored fairytale about the boy who never grew up. Told through the lens of Wendy, this adaptation tackles more mature themes while still maintaining visuals sprung right from a child's imagination, sure to enchant all ages. A story woven with ideas of grief, hope, and family, Wendy and Peter Pan received love from audiences in the Royal Shakespeare Company's 2013 and 2015 productions.
Oakton High School's production, for a few short hours, transported their auditorium to another world with the incredible environment they created on stage. Neverland came to life in the form of gorgeous, towering sets, coordinated costumes, intricate makeup, and the commitment of the ensemble's roles to create the fantastical environment they lived in. There truly was nowhere else they could have been as Lost Boys rode the slide into their hideout or pirates jumped off the edge of the Jolly Roger into the ocean.
In the title roles of Wendy and Peter Pan were Gwen Ihde and Colt Craddock, respectively. Both were captivating and played their roles with wonder, Idhe as she stared at the stars and Craddock as he flew around the stage, challenging pirates to fight. Wendy's determined nature and Peter's child-like charm created a dynamic right out of a storybook.
Kaitlyn McCarley, as Tink, had one of the most defined personalities, characterized by her accent and stubborn nature that showed when she marched across the stage pouting or throwing pixie dust in people's faces. Sarah Driessen as Mrs. Darling was equally impressive creating a different type of role; a soft but strong demeanor captured her motherly instincts and made it all the more heartbreaking when she broke, throwing open the window and crying out her son's name without hope.
Three different sets, led by Shane Roy, took the stage throughout the show, each one as stunning as the last. The Darling's home was neat as a dollhouse, complete with details like the books on the children's walls and the clock on the fireplace. The Neverland forest and the Lost Boys' hideout were impressively created from the same structure, and the Jolly Roger stood tall and daunting, the ship's wheel atop a two story design that looked over the edge of the stage lit in blue, becoming the ocean far below.
The costumes by Emerson Wilson and the makeup by Audrey Ihde both had incredible detail with each Lost Boy and pirate in something slightly individual but coordinated to match their ensemble group. The sound by Ash Dougherty was clean and timely the entire show, and the use of their own sound effects worked well, creating an effect that deserved applause.
By the end of the show, the cast and crew of Oakton's Wendy and Peter Pan had left it all on the stage and as curtain call came to a close, no one was yet ready to leave Neverland.
James Madison High School
Oakton High School's soaring production of Wendy and Peter Pan dazzled its audiences with remarkable actors, stunning special effects, and of course, pixie dust!
Ella Hickson's modern adaptation of J. M. Barrie's classic, Peter Pan, follows Wendy Darling and her two brothers, John and Michael, as they encounter the spirited Peter and his rollicking Lost Boys. While on her quest to find her long-lost brother, Wendy struggles with controlling the Lost Boys, fending off swashbuckling pirates, and her growing affection towards Peter.
Of course, how can Wendy and Peter Pan be as spectacular without a spectacular Wendy and Peter Pan? Gwen Ihde successfully portrayed Wendy's motherly yet ambitious character and empowered all those around her. No one else could have superbly performed the youthful and energetic Peter Pan as Colt Craddock did! Craddock showed the audience every side of the character, from the immature, selfish young boy to the selfless and caring young man. Kyumin Kim grasped the role of the show's antagonist, Captain Hook, with the true villain persona and an evil laugh that sent shivers down the audience's timbers! Kaitlyn McCarley also delivered the audience a fresh performance with her spunky interpretation of the fairy Tink.
The show's many harmonious ensembles left a lasting impression on the audience. The rambunctious Lost Boys of Neverland captured the essence of true Lost Boys with their childish behaviors. At the same time, Captain Hook's dynamic crew of pirates entertained all with their proud "Argh!" and authentic embodiment of their characters. Peter's many shadows, all clothed in black, delighted the audience with their big physical motions.
The actors weren't the only ones to steal the show! Special effects that enabled the actors to fly (yes, really fly!) were done with an impressive job by fly head Eliot Hettler and his fantastic fly team. They successfully hooked up the actors under the audience's noses and guided them swiftly through the air. The costume and makeup crew, headed by Emerson Wilson, dazzled the audience with character-fitting outfits, especially that of Tink's, whose costume sparkled with fairy lights. Shane Roy and the set crew established each scene through the elaborate sets of a nursery, an underground playground, and the deck of a pirate ship. The light team and their heads, River Le and JJ Feeny, outdid themselves with mystical stars projected on the ceiling and colors fitting the emotion of each scene.
Oakton's Wendy and Peter Pan made its audiences believe in the fantastical world of Neverland and its characters. As Peter instructs, one must think of a pure, happy thought in order to fly. When Oakton's audiences think back to the marvelous production, they'll, without a doubt, begin to fly.