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Oregon theater going airborne for opener

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Nicole Been is Tiger Lily and Kayla Giovanoli is Peter Pan in 'Peter Pan The Musical.'

Jetta Fraser / The Blade
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Attention, children young and old: A little magic will be flying into Oregon's Fassett Auditorium in November.

The Oregon Community Theatre is beginning its 2008-2009 season with Peter Pan the Musical, a singing, dancing, special-effects-laden extravaganza, complete with Indians, pirates, and flying children.

"It's very exciting," said director Kevin Wietrzykowski, as he took a moment to talk about the upcoming show amid an intense rehearsal schedule last week. "At the same time, I'm very nervous."

Nervous because Peter Pan the Musical marks the first time that the theater group has employed large-scale flying effects in a production. The show is the most expensive the theater ever has put on, president Ron Davis said, and the group has spent months raising the cash for it.

"It will be spectacular," said Mr. Davis, adding that the city of Oregon donated $5,000 toward getting Peter Pan, literally, off the ground. "I think this will be a real plus to the community."

In addition to his behind-the-scenes fund-raiser role, Mr. Davis will act in the musical as Captain Hook and Mr. Darling. Joining him on stage will be 19-year-old Kayla Giovanoli, an Oregon native and a sophomore at the University of Toledo, who stars as Peter Pan.

Ms. Giovanoli, who is majoring in broadcast journalism, said she auditioned for the part on a whim, never expecting to get it.

"I did theater all throughout high school and junior high, so it was always a big part of my life, and I thought it'd be fun to try out [for the part]," Ms. Giovanoli said. "I was really happy when I got it."

Peter Pan is traditionally played by a female, Mr. Wietrzykowski said, partly because it is easier for girls to sing the high notes of the musical's score. He said Ms. Giovanoli fit the part because of her energy-filled facial expressions and her talent for singing and dancing.

Other cast members include Ellie Swisher from Genoa High School, who plays Wendy Darling, and Levi Phillips from Toledo Christian High School, who plays Wendy's brother, John. Altogether, 32 performers ranging in age from 10 to 67 will take the stage, Mr. Wietrzykowski said. Another 20 people, mostly volunteers, will work behind the scenes.

Mr. Davis said he expects the show, based on the original play by James M. Barrie, will have wide appeal.

"It's a timeless story," he said. "There's a child within us all, so I think that makes it fun for everyone."

Shows will occur on Nov. 7, 8, 14, and 15 at 8 p.m., and 3 p.m. Nov. 16. Performances will be held in Fassett Auditorium on 3025 Starr Ave. in Oregon. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for seniors and students and can be purchased at the door. For more information visit oregoncommunitytheatre.org.

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