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‘Peter/Wendy’ hits UW-River Falls stage

December 12, 2014

A beloved story since it first appeared on stage in 1904, Peter Pan has captured the hearts and minds of many generations.

The play spurred J. M. Barrie to write a novel of Peter Pan’s adventures, entitled “Peter and Wendy,” which was published in 1911. Both the play and novel brought Barrie much wealth and fame.

The UW-River Falls University Theater production put on Jeremy Bloom’s play adaptation of Barrie’s novel called “Peter/Wendy,” which includes elements from “Little Bird.” Not to be confused with the Disney version, Peter/Wendy ran from Dec. 4-6 and opens again on Dec. 11-13.

The story is similar to the classic tale of Peter Pan, but with a contemporary twist. The play focuses on Wendy Darling (Lauren Morris) and her new friend Peter Pan (Danielle Formanek). Wendy is taken to “Neverland” where children never grow up. The children of Neverland long for a mother and Wendy decides to take on the task.

Meanwhile, an evil Captain Hook (KC Stowe of Minneapolis) and his right-hand man, Smee, (Kendra Yarke of East Bethel, Minnesota) are trying to get rid of the notorious Peter Pan.

“I was drawn to Jeremy’s script for a number of reasons,” said Director Sean Dooley. “First and foremost because it centers on Wendy’s decision to return to her parents and leave Neverland. She chooses adulthood, with all its responsibility and uncertainty, over Peter and childhood.”

The cast members include: Anna Head as Tinkerbell; Maddie Dooher as Tiger Lily; Vanessa Agnes as Mrs. Darling; Nathan Cameron as Mr. Darling; Danielle Bebus as Mermaid/Pirate; Emma Meyer as Mermaid/Lost Boy; Josh Gustafson as Lost Boy; and Luke Murphy as Lost Boy.

Nicholas Ambroz is stage manager and Lisa Miske is assistant stage manager.

“We all have some sort of acquaintance with this story, its done in a way people can really take it and run with it,” said Jeremy Bloom, who wrote Peter/Wendy.

On Friday, Dec. 5, there was a discussion after the performance with Dooley and Bloom. Audience members could ask Bloom questions about his play and talk with cast members about their roles.

“There was a disconnect from Peter, almost a sense of carelessness, different from the cartoon,” a student audience member said.

“The lost boys’ blindness is a physical symbol of how lost they really are,” said a cast member.

“Nostalgic and dreamlike as if you were a child, the mood and atmosphere and lightning really helped set the tone,” Head said.

Peter/Wendy used balloons in the production to represent the potential for flight, for adventure. The reminder that at any time, with the right thought, we could go soaring off into the unknown. All it takes is a happy thought.

“The heart of the story is from the perspective of a child,” Bloom said.