Unique interpretation of ‘Peter Pan’ lands on Barlow's stage

Joel Barlow students rehearse a scene from “Peter Pan” as Captain Hook is swallowed by the ocean waves. The winter show is set for Feb. 14 and 15 at 8 p.m. — Mark Pritchard photo

Joel Barlow High School’s 2013 winter show, “Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up,” combines the talents of student director, Joel Barlow senior Thomas Ordway, and professional director, Diana Canova, to present J.M. Barrie’s classic story through a new lens. The show will run for two performances: Thursday, Feb. 14, and Friday, Feb. 15, at 8 p.m.

According to Ms. Canova, the winter play offers a great opportunity for a smaller group of student actors to work together creatively. “This year is no different,” she said. “Preparation started over the summer as Thomas and I combed through various script possibilities.”

When Thomas and Ms. Canova decided on “Peter Pan,” they were inspired to take a creative move away from the traditional setting of the story to place it in war-torn Sarajevo. “We have now brought that interpretation to the cast and crew, and the strategy is evolving at each rehearsal. It is so exciting to watch it all come together,” Ms. Canova said.

The actors are remaining true to the script, with some cuts to keep the show under 45 minutes. “We’re doing the same play, but viewed through a sort of different lens,” said Thomas, who also plays the title role. “We’re taking this show that’s normally a kid’s show and setting it in this really visceral and volatile time in world history to synthesize relevant new meaning from the same words. It’s about fantasy and survival, but most importantly, it’s about kids trying to rationalize the idea of war.”

Though the directors, including parent volunteer producer Peggy Ordway, are purposefully silent on the specifics of the production, they indicated that music and a solo cellist are integral to the performance.

Performances will be held at the Joel Barlow High School’s Auditorium, 100 Black Rock Turnpike, Redding. All tickets are $10 and will be sold at the door. There is no reserved seating. The show will also be Joel Barlow High School’s entry in the Connecticut Drama Association Festival competition, which takes place at Old Saybrook High School on March 15 and 16.

Cast members include Melanie Ambler, Matt Berry, Shawn Burger, Nini Constable, Julia Cornell, Katie Cowherd, Madeleine England, Brynn Gilchrist, Becky Hermenze, Austin Jennings, Katrina Karl and Justin Kipp.

Also, John Laske, Kevin Mora, Henry Mound, Daisy Navin, James Ordway, Thomas Ordway, Sarah Pardee, Blake Pritchard, Megan Siedman, Brendon Soodek, Ellen Thome and Lucy Wainright.

Crew responsibilities are handled by Sam Tomaszewski and David Baulsir.

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