(photo credit: (c) Kevin Berne)
"Peter Pan" is a stunner.
The aerial-influenced show from author J.M. Barrie about the boy who would never grow up is playing on stage at The threesixty Theater -- aka, the giant, white, ice-cream-cone of a tent -- at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, and CC and I were thrilled to be in the audience on opening night.
Already known for its literal flights of fancy, the production takes the aerial concept to the next level by adding an animated visual element, with sometimes-moving landscapes projected onto the interior walls of the tent. The effect? Breathtaking.
(And if you've ever been to a Cirque du Soleil show inside of its blue-and-yellow tent, you might get the tingly sensation of deja vu.)
Flying in through the Darling family's window to retrieve his shadow, Peter Pan (Nate Fallows) meets Wendy (Abby Ford), the Darling daughter who will accompany him -- along with her brothers, John (Arthur Wilson) and Michael (David Poynor) -- back to Never Land, where they will meet all sorts of characters, from the scrappy Lost Boys to the deadly Captain Hook (played with menacing humor by Jonathan Hyde, who also doubles as Mr. Darling).
But before we head off on the adventure, the audience meets the ornery Tinker Bell (Itxaso Moreno), who's a little different from the Disney version. This one's all about pulling the rug out from rival Wendy.
"Why is Tinker Bell not nice?" CC kept asking.
"Well, Sweetheart, she doesn't want Wendy to be Peter Pan's friend," I offered, already dreading the tween and teen years when this will really rear its ugly head.
But Tinker Bell was nothing on Captain Hook.
While there was a lot of humor associated with his role, he was also a tyrant on his pirate ship. Some kids in the audience also weren't too fond of his killing ways and got scared. (I was actually surprised to see that he actually slit a fellow pirate's throat on stage. No blood, but that was still pretty freaky for the little ones.)
The visual artistry of the show, directed by Ben Harrison and designed by William Dudley, however, made "Peter Pan" a true creative marvel.
The sense of flying over London on our way to Never Land created the feeling of audience participation, a sensation no doubt enhanced by the 360-degree projected graphics. There were lots of ooh's and aah's.
CC was a huge fan and already wants to see it again.
"I liked every part of the show, Mommy," she said on the way out. "I liked Peter Pan and Wendy."
"And Tinker Bell."
The threesixty Theater at the Orange County Performing Arts Center
600 Town Center Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Sept. 28-Nov. 21
Tickets: $30-$75, with premium and child pricing available