Peter Pan will fly over the heads of the audience at the Springer Opera House’s Emily Woodruff Hall starting this weekend.
Koqunia Forté, who plays Peter Pan, is excited about playing the iconic role and about “learning to fly.”
“It’s something I’ve dreamed of doing. It’s the most magical show,” the University of Georgia graduate said.
Equipment from ZFX Flying Effects of Louisville, Ky. will be used to safely “fly” Peter Pan, and the Darling kids — Wendy, John and Michael — across the theater.
“ZFX does flying for lots and lots of different things,” Pierce said. “I think ZFX has improved on the flying techniques. They use different types of equipment. We have some very special effects, including the ability to fly over the audiences.”
“Peter Pan” is an adventure story starring kids who never want to grow up.
The story was written in 1902, and parts seem dated. The portrayal of Indians and pirates are stereotypical and fantastical.
Springer artistic director Paul Pierce wants the audience to remember that the story was written in England with a different vantage point than we have today.
“These are the stories told to children as they were put to bed,” Pierce said. “These are sheltered, protected children with images of pirates and Indians around them. It was part of the decor. These children really don’t know anything about real pirates and Indians and fairies. How could they know? This is a child’s fantasy of ‘Peter Pan’; a fantasy adventure.”
As for the pirates, long-time Springer favorite Raymond Campbell, who plays Jukes, said they are “like Keystone Pirates. We’re scary, but not that scary.”
Adam Archer, who plays Cecco, jokes the pirates are only in it for the money and the booty “to pay for our dance lessons.”
Melissa Cone is playing Wendy like “any imaginative young lady.”
“She has her stereotypical ideas of escaping and growing up,” Cone said. Her mother, Kimberly Cone, is playing Mrs. Darling.
Jens Rasmussen plays Smee, Captain Hook’s right-hand man.
As for Captain Hook, it’s Steve Valentini’s second time playing the dastardly pirate captain.
“Oh, Hook’s different now. He’s older and more experienced and wiser. And the show is growing.”
And because Valentini is a few years older himself, Pierce said he wanted “genuine youth” in the Darling children.
Melissa Cone is a senior at Columbus High School, and the two Darling boys, Dustin Dawson and Sam Lord, are both still in elementary school.
Wendy is still older than the Lost Boys and they look up to her as a mother figure.
“One of the things we’ve been focusing on is the Lost Boys aspect of it,” Pierce said. “What is a Lost Boy? And what happens when Wendy comes to Neverland? I think a Lost Boy is a child yearning for a parent.”
Wendy, he said, civilizes the Lost Boys.
“It’s kind of fascinating. And they (the Lost Boys) really like it. Peter Pan has a hard time with it, though.
“What would boys be like without a mother? Why, they would be like little barbarians.”
Pierce can’t help but wonder what happens to the Lost Boys when Wendy leaves Neverland.