The Windsor Light Music Theatre Youth Program will be bringing a little magic to Windsor on Saturday when they take flight in an engaging presentation of the junior version of Peter Pan. The show is scheduled for two performances at 2 and 7pm at Ecole Secondaire L’Essor in Tecumseh this Saturday (April 7).

Based on the Disney film and J.M. Barrie’s enchanting play, Disney’s Peter Pan JR. is a modern version of the timeless tale about a boy who wouldn’t grow up… with no flying required! The score includes new arrangements of classic Disney songs and a story featuring one rousing adventure after another.

“The junior version of Peter Pan still utilizes the same classic songs from the 1953 Disney animated film and features all of the same classic characters audiences love, with only a couple updates for a 2018 audience,” says director Allison Grieco. “The show itself, however, is shortened to a production that runs about 60 minutes, rather than the full-length play.”

Wendy Darling loves to tell stories to her brothers, Michael and John. But when her father announces she must move out of the nursery, Peter Pan comes to visit the children and whisks them away to Neverland. Their journey introduces them to the Lost Boys, Mermaids, Indians and even the infamous pirate, Captain Hook!  It’s Peter to the rescue when Wendy is taken captive by the dreaded captain, who has his own sinister plans in mind for our hero.

“Peter Pan is a story about the magical island of Neverland, where children never grow up and they govern themselves,” continues Grieco. “Fittingly, this production will see the youth actors performing all set changes as movement sequences on stage all by themselves. Though it is important to note we still have a sizeable running crew made up of adult volunteers who will be working tirelessly in the wings, all action on stage will be brought to life by the kids… including the technically dazzling transition from the London nursery to the forests of Neverland. Audiences may also love our wickedly talented female Captain Hook.”

Peter Pan JR can potentially be a challenging production for young performers, but the Windsor Light Youth Program is designed with children in mind. Youth Theatre Department Head Rod Turton explains how it’s done:

“The Windsor Light Youth Program is a unique one in that the actors are not pre-auditioned prior to their registration in the program. We truly want every child to have the education experience of performing regardless of their previous experiences or level of training. This gives us some performers who have never stepped foot on a stage, teamed up with children who are already young veterans of the theatre. We walk each child through every step of the theatrical process, from audition prep to tech week, and partner them with a highly skilled director, music director and choreographer. The journey from page to stage for these children is very much a team effort, and the confidence all performers attain as a result year after year is magical.”

Selecting a musical to perform for the large youth in the program can be a challenge, but Peter Pan JR was designed with countless opportunities for clever staging and design, as well as large ensemble numbers featuring cliques of classic characters.

“As we were in the planning stages for our third annual youth production at Windsor Light, I had set of criteria in mind for choosing a show, and when the opportunity to produce Peter Pan came about, it seemed like an easy choice for a number of reasons,” Turton explains. “We always look for plays that accommodate the appropriate number of performers (this year we have 38 between the ages of 8 and 15) and provide material that is both comfortable and challenging enough to meet the requirements of an educational program. In addition, we wanted a show that would appeal to audiences of all ages. Finally, and perhaps the greatest selling point, was the size of the ensemble in this particular script.  In Peter Pan, the large ensemble has an incredibly active role in the entire show, and it was important to us that all children, whether they are mermaids, fairies, pirates, Lost Boys or Neverland Braves, felt showcased and proud of their part.”

It also doesn’t hurt when the director is a big fan of the show.

“Peter Pan has always been a favourite of mine,” Grieco reveals. “The story and characters, straight out of J.M. Barrie’s original tale of a boy who would not grow up are timeless, limitless and fun. Everyone (even the grown-ups!) can remember some special aspect of this story that resonates in them, whether it’s Peter’s sense of adventure or Wendy’s colourful imagination. It is this sense of Disney magic that we hope to bring to life again on stage.”

Peter Pan JR will be staged Saturday, April 7, 2018 at 2 and 7pm at Ecole Secondaire l’Essor in Tecumseh. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children and can be purchased at the WLMT Box Office until Friday, or at the door of the show on Saturday.

Director: Allison Grieco
Choreographer: Alley Biniarz
Music Director: Colin Zorzit

Matthew DiPaolo (Peter Pan)
Abby St. Pierre (Captain Hook)
Emma Osley (Tinkerbell)
Erynn McGuinness (Wendy Darling)

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