Audience members took a trip to Neverland for Playful Fox Productions (PFP) final performance of “Peter Pan” at the Paris Presbyterian Church on Sunday, July 23, 2023.
Sir James Matthew (J.M.) Barrie’s “Peter Pan” is a story about a mischievous young boy with a special talent for flying and who never grows up. The story follows the boy’s adventure alongside the Darling children and his troop of lost boys as they take on the antagonistic Captain Hook and his band of pirates.
Before starting the final performance Malakai Fox, co-owner of PFP and the actor behind the Narrator, Mr. Darling and Captain Hook, took to the stage to thank the audience for coming out and encouraged them to believe in fairies and to stop growing up.
“Everyone one of us, from the youngest to the most experienced, from the smallest to the tallest – every one of you – right now, must stop growing up,” said Fox. “If we can do that together, then we can all be like Peter Pan.”
Moments later, Mrs. Darling (Jen Gregory-Garden) grappled with leaving her children home for the evening over her concerns of seeing a young boy in the window and finding a shadow in the children’s nursery.
The Darling children, Wendy (Nicole DiVincenzio), John (Lily Wijnker) and Michael (Penny Wijnker) alongside their lovable dog Nana, soon entered the scene as they played “mom and dad” before getting ready for bed for the evening.
A short while later, a strange wind blows in a feisty green fairy named Tinkerbell (Isabel Dartsch) before Peter Pan (Marissa Wilson-Fox) makes his way into the nursery to find his shadow.
The eldest Darling child Wendy soon awakes to find the strange boy trying to reattach his shadow with a bar of soap. The meeting quickly took an adventurous turn as Pater Pan invited the children to join him to Neverland to meet his lost boys.
Chaos ensued as Peter Pan, the Darling children and the lost boys take on various fights with Captain Hook and his band of pirates.
Fox charmed the audience as he flipped between narrating and playing the infamous Captain Hook. With perfectly timed facial expressions and playful comments (occasionally breaking the “fourth wall”), Fox had the audience laughing along during the entirety of the play.
Alongside Fox, Wilson-Fox embodied Peter Pan’s playful attitude and mischievous demeanour throughout the show. The two characters played off each other as they moved the story along in between lively pranks and fight scenes.
With Rob Curwain playing the pirate Smee, his loveable manner stood out against his Captain and often created a smart juxtaposition between the two.
Despite not having a large Broadway size set up with rigging and the works, PFP designed creative alternatives for the more magical moments such as flying to Neverland and playing in a mermaid lagoon.
From the pirates to the lost boys, Tiger Lily and more, the actors often made cheeky comments about their clever workarounds making the audience laugh and giggle during the entirety of the play.
Audience members felt comfortable enough to join in on jokes, interacting with the Fox as the Narrator and even clapped loudly to help wake up Tinkerbell.
Simple moments such as group reactions and lighting changes were a clever use to display more ominous moments such as TickTock the crocodile (Meghan Chambers) sneaking up on Captain Hook and chasing him away for good.
As the show wrapped for the final time, the audience gave the final performance a standing ovation.
“It was absolutely amazing, I loved the pirates and the chemistry between Peter and Wendy,” said Meghan Josling, an audience member. “I thought it was all very clever and I loved that they really got to use their imagination.”