I briefly interrupt your lazy summer days to bring you this update on the status of achieving my summer time Bucket List: I am pleased to report on an excellent trip to Bethesda’s Imagination Stage on July 2. To cut straight to the chase: me and the girls are giving Imagination Stage’s Peter Pan & Wendy a strong two thumbs up after enjoying the performance last Tuesday morning.
True mom confession time: I was a little nervous bringing my younger one because while I’ve always enjoyed past Imagination Stage performances, I’ve found them to be a little too long for the younger ones. Not this time!
Reason #1 topping the list – and what has long been one of my frustrations with productions at Imagination Stage – this time there was no intermission. I cannot tell you how relieved I was to figure this out around mid-way through the production.
Second, anyone who reads me regularly knows my little one is a hardcore Pirate lover – so the evil Captain Hook and his sidekick Smee easily kept her 4-year-old attention – which is no small feat, as anyone who has a 4-year-old knows. The set is beautifully designed to switch between Wendy’s nursery filled with large blocks and toys, and Neverland, complete with a forest, the Lost Boys and those scheming pirates. Tinkerbelle, much to our surprise, also had a dominant presence in the play, in the form of a twinkling light that beautifully bounces around the set and pixie dust sound effects.
Third reason – the show encourages audience participation and actually treats the audience as part of the production, with the characters asking one another what the audience told them to do (hint: the daft Smee especially needs a little lifeline help from audience friends to keep things straight). Kids LOVE to shout and interact – hell – they do it anyway during shows even if it’s not encouraged, so if you can’t beat ’em, you mine as well join ’em, right? Much to their credit, the audience participation flows naturally with the production and doesn’t interfere or make it seem choppy or forced, which is not necessarily something easy to pull off.
The story line itself follows the basic arc of the Peter Pan movie the kids are all used too, which I always appreciate because the kids tend to find comfort in familiarity. The Indian Princess, Tiger Lily, however, has a bigger role in Imagination Stage’s production and she quickly emerged as the fan favorite in our house. My girls adored her costume and are obsessed with recreating it for Halloween: it was the perfect combination of whimsical and feminine with strong and brave (hint: a pack of arrows strapped to your back will lock in the strong and brave brand every time).
The Lost Boys are a pack of 2 in the Imagination Stage production, one is a wolf and the other a very
funny chipmunk. Speaking of animals, Tick Tock the croc also emerged as a fan favorite in our house, I marveled over her costume and my girls eagerly awaited the croc’s chance to get another taste of the scallywag, Hook.
Here’s my one complaint – the stereotypical gender roles, particularly those reinforced by Peter and Wendy – really annoyed me at times. Did Wendy really need to come in and play the role of “mother” to the Lost Boys? Did she need to be the practical and smart character? Did the boys in the play need to be bumbling and lacking will power, unable to make logical or smart decisions without the guidance of the “mother” figure (in the form of a young girl)? Further, did we need to continue to perpetuate female competition by encouraging Tink’s threatened feelings towards Wendy? I understand these plot lines are carried through the storyline we all are used too – but I couldn’t help but wondered if they really needed to be repeated again. It wasn’t enough to taint my overall reaction to the play but it absolutely annoyed me at times.
Conversely, and probably another reason why Tiger Lily emerged as a strong fan favorite for our group, her role was more evolved and she absolutely represented a strong female character not bound by traditional and frustrating gender stereotypes. If anything, it prompted me to talk further with the girls after the play about what we liked about the characters, what we liked a little less, and why we liked Tiger Lilly so much.
At a running time of about one hour and 15 minutes, we thoroughly enjoyed this musical performance. I would absolutely encourage you to add it to your kid summer bucket list and bring the 4-year-olds without fear that they will grow weary. It’s an excellent production put on by Imagination Stage and now I am off to hunt down Tiger Lily costume options for Halloween, albeit a wee bit early. Catch the show before it ends on August 11. Show times and ticket prices are below.
Peter Pan and Wendy
A musical by Alyn Cardarelli and Steve Goers; directed by Kathryn Chase Bryer.
June 26 – August 11, 2013 Show Schedule:
· Public performances on Tuesdays-Fridays at 10:30 a.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., select Saturdays at 11 a.m.
· Special Friday night performance on July 12 at 7 p.m.
Tickets: $12 – $25; best for ages 4-10
Disclosure: Imagination Stage provided tickets for me to see the show. My opinions here are all my own.