Local Schoolchildren Take Flight in USF Playmakers' Peter Pan

Published: March 29, 2012 | Author: Nikki Allen | Category: Academics

The students of the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s Playmakers program have been hard at work on their upcoming production of Peter Pan and are ready to show it off in several school productions and public performances March 29 and 30 and April 2 and 3 at 7:30 p.m. and March 31 at 2 p.m. in the Randall L. Jones Theatre.

This group of over sixty Iron County students, together with their leaders from the Festival’s education department, has put together what promises to be a "magical” and “entertaining” amateur production for schoolmates and community members alike.

“We have been trying to obtain the rights to Peter Pan for many years and are thrilled to finally be able to produce it,” said Josh Stavros, Festival associate education director.

Over 160 young students auditioned in January, which is the highest number of participants in Playmakers history. From them, 60 were cast. “Each year we are able to raise the level of professionalism and each year these kids have exceeded all expectations,” said Stavros.

"These students are so excited to perform for their peers and the community. The sixty plus students and orchestra make the magic come alive in a way that will excite and delight audiences of all ages. This production has fun and fantastic stage magic to transport the audience from Cedar City to London to Neverland.” said Michael Bahr, Festival education director.

Several current SUU students as well as faculty and alumni have also been involved in this Playmakers production. The choreographer, Kaitlin Ruzzamenti, is a dance major, and stage manager Bryan Sommer is a theatre major. The entire orchestra, save one, is composed of SUU students, and director Michael Bahr and music director LeGrande Andersen are both adjunct faculty. Additionally, the lights and set were designed by Utah Shakespeare Festival technicians Scott Palfreyman and Ben Hohman, both of whom are adjunct professors in the theatre department.

Peter Pan is the classic tale of the boy who never grew up and his adventures with the Darling children in Neverland This musical adaptation of the play by Sir James M. Barrie with music by Mose Charlap and lyrics by Carolyn Leigh is a shortened version of the Mary Martin musical. Some of the popular songs include I Gotta Crow, I Won't Grow Up, and I'm Flying.

Tickets are general admission and are $5 for children and students, and $8 for adults. They can be purchased by calling 435-586-7878 or online at bard.org.

Playmakers is a youth theatre program designed to serve local elementary, middle and high school age students, providing a theatre training program for children in Cedar City beyond the traditional small-scale school experience. Now in its 10th year, it began as a summer program that has grown to include two full length productions each year.

Playmakers is unique in that the casts of its shows are all children; however, the productions have the support of Festival resources in terms of production values.

In recent years, according to Stavros, Playmakers has seen great strides in the individual success of Playmakers students. One notable standout is Riley Griffiths, a student who had a principal role in the JJ Abrams/Steven Spielberg blockbuster Super 8. Beyond Riley, students are often cast in professional summer productions here in Cedar City, both at the Utah Shakespeare Festival and the Neil Simon Festival.

In fact, according to Stavros, all three roles for children in To Kill a Mockingbird will be filled by local Cedar City students who are current Playmakers, not to mention the seven other Playmakers cast in Les Miserables, Titus Andronicus, and The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Of this, said Stavros, "We couldn't be more proud."

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