Fleetwood Community Theatre flies to Neverland with its musical “Peter Pan” July 24 to 26 at Fleetwood High School July 24 and 25 at 7:30 p.m., and July 26 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
“Because the theme is ‘you never want to grow up’, it’s one of the songs in the show, we want people to come in here having light hearts and go out with a nice spirit after they’ve seen a show,” said Fleetwood Community Theatre President Brian Miller, of Fleetwood and a Hamburg native.
“With everything that’s going on in the world, we always like to present something that’s positive and uplifting. So that’s what we’re looking for in all our shows, but Peter Pan certainly should bring that out.”
“Flying, sword fighting, tribal dance, walking the plank, fairies, and dreams and reality of the Darling family and their dog, Nana are the many ventures you will be taken on through this journey of never “growing up”. All this crafted on a live stage,” according to the FCT release.
The cast of more than 50 from across Berks County will perform the original 1954 Broadway production that starred Mary Martin as Peter and Cyril Ritchard as Captain Hook, earning them both Tony Awards.
Founded in 1988, Fleetwood Community Theatre is a local group of thespians that draws from all over Berks and Lehigh counties. This production will feature a cast of predominantly local children.
Fleetwood Area Senior High School auditorium is sweltering on July 8 at the group’s 7 p.m. rehearsal. Miller is wearing a fabric crocodile costume despite the heat. He will play Captain Hook’s stalker, Tick-Tock the Crocodile, as well as Nana the Newfoundland in the upcoming production chosen by a selection committee.
“We nailed it down to two,” said Miller. “This one just seemed to be the spotlight that’s going to involve a lot more children, it was not done in Berks County for a while and we thought this is the time to bring it back. It involves a big cast, both adults and children, and so we decided to do it this year.”
The other possibility was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, another very big musical. Unfortunately it was just done in the middle school as a project, so they didn’t want to go back-to-back with it, he said.
“So Peter Pan just shined,” said Miller. “Also, it’s a musical that everyone can relate to and everyone knows.”
Miller noted that it’s a very expensive musical for FCT this year between the rights, the renting of the school and the flying apparatus. “It’s a very expensive musical, but, again, we’re ready to do it and we wanted to do it.”
Director Daniel Petrovich of Macungie said, “It’s a great show to introduce kids to theater, which is kind of what Fleetwood as a group is about. Our goal is to introduce people to theater who maybe don’t do theater. We are a teaching organization. There were a couple titles thrown out there, but this one I thought would be a great way to introduce little kids to musical theater.”
The children seem to be looking forward to the production and, most of all, the flying the script entails.
“I’m looking forward to the flying practice,” said Bence Veres of Temple, 12, portraying Peter Pan.
This is his first theatrical role. “He’s sort of a bully,” said Veres about his character.
His adversary, Captain Hook, is sort of a bully as well, played by Benjamin Ruth, 33, of Kuhnsville. “Confrontation drives Hook’s character,” said Ruth, who has been involved in theater for more than a decade and worked most recently with Genesius Theatre and the Reading Community Players.
“It’s outlandish and it’s just super fun,” said Ruth about being involved in this particular production.
Alex Vogelgesang, 12, will play John Darling. He’s been involved in the theater for a while and noted that Peter Pan was one of his favorite childhood fairytales, but was also quick to say, “I’m really looking forward to the flying part.”
“He’s a pretty strong character. He’s very smart and so he finds the other lost boys foolish, but he wants to have adventure like them so he goes along,” said Alex about the role of John.
Cassidy Vees of Blandon, 13, will play Wendy. This is her fifth play. “I really like Peter Pan because the idea that he never grows up is interesting. I really liked the book. It’s a lot different than the Disney version.”
Her character, she says, “is very mothering to the lost boys.”
Overall, the members of the Fleetwood Community Theatre, from thespians to production crew, are hoping that their first rendition of Peter Pan will shape up to be a magical show.
Jarrod Miller, 23, of Mount Penn has been performing in shows since his freshman year of high school. He’s the Music Director for the show and noted the synergy involved in performing a show such as this.
The goal of the show for the community, he said, “is for them to come in and see how these young kids and all these different age groups can come together and really put a show on; with the great music and the beautiful scenery we’ll have and the stellar cast, I think there will really be a wow factor that all these people can come together and do this. It’s a great thing.”