Peter Pan is the first collaboration of Repertory Philippines and Stages, and the first time this particular version, by Stiles and Drewe and the late Willis Hall, is being staged in Asia. The musical is, of course, based on the timeless tale written by J.M. Barrie.
I’ve always loved Peter Pan, and I was excited to watch it on stage. Lucky I caught the press preview over a week ago (special thanks to my boss and Rep).
The musical opens to a London skyline, zeroing in on one household — that of the Darlings, of course. It is bedtime in the nursery, and there is the normal getting-to-bed fracas of children who don’t want to go to sleep, then calm as Mrs. Darling sings her lullaby and tucks them into bed.
When the lights are dimmed and Wendy, John, and Michael Darling drift off the sleep, Peter Pan and Tinkerbell fly in through the nursery window. Peter Pan is rummaging about for his shadow, finds it in the cupboard, but cries when he can’t put his shadow back on. This wakes Wendy, who utters the line, “Boy, why are you crying?” And so begins the magical adventure, the bedtime tale familiar to generations who have grown up wishing for Neverland.
The material itself is lovely: the the music is fantastic, and the language echoes J.M. Barrie’s writing, even directly quoting the original text, and yet adds nuances of its own. I’ve never thought about Neverland as “never land,” and I also appreciate the depth the musical adds to Wendy’s character — how she laments being a mother to the Lost Boys in Neverland, when she needs a mother herself; and how she looks forward to the experience of growing up.
Sam Concepcion pulls off the playful and petulant Peter Pan to a T, and Tippy Dos Santos was a surprisingly good Wendy. Tinkerbell (yes, the light with no speaking lines, but it plays a major part in the musical), The Lost Boys, Tiger Lily and her tribe, and Captain Hook and his band of pirates were all delightful to watch, too. And excellent production — lots of flying and set transformations!
I’ve watched all the Rep shows this year, and I must say this one is my favorite. Highly recommended for anyone who grew up on Peter Pan (although — too long for the primary school set; it’s longer than a movie), but more so for grownups who could use an hour or two to feel like a kid again.
photo credits: all Peter Pan photos from Repertory.ph (copyright Jojit Lorenzo 2011)
Peter Pan runs until October 30 at Meralco Theater. For tickets, call 571-6926 or log on to Ticketworld.