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Published: Wednesday, 2/8/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

'Peter Pan' to fly into Bedford High

Special rigging to suspend 4 actors at the same time

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Nate Mitchell, left, a resident artist at the Purple Rose Theater in Chelsea, Mich., instructs Joseph Pilrose, a fifth grader at Douglas Road Elementary, in stage fighting at a rehearsal for the musical. Mr. Mitchell is an actor and choreographer. Nate Mitchell, left, a resident artist at the Purple Rose Theater in Chelsea, Mich., instructs Joseph Pilrose, a fifth grader at Douglas Road Elementary, in stage fighting at a rehearsal for the musical. Mr. Mitchell is an actor and choreographer.
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TEMPERANCE -- Peter Pan the Musical is about to take flight at Bedford High School.

The 40 cast members in the popular show have been rehearsing for five weeks, and on Friday the flying equipment is scheduled to arrive.

Once installed in the high school auditorium, it will enable four actors to be suspended in the air at the same time, according to Sue Smith, the play's director.

The characters of Wendy, John, and Michael will be able to go up and down on their trip to Neverland, but Peter will soar over the first three rows of the audience.

"It's an ambitious production," said Ms. Smith, an adjunct professor of theater at Adrian College. Her husband, Mark Smith, is the high school choral director and producer of the show. The entire $20,000 cost of the show is financed by ticket sales and supporters of the theater program.

The performances are scheduled for Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 24 at 8 p.m., Feb. 25 at 2 and 8 p.m., and Feb. 26 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $14. Seats can be reserved by calling 734-850-6131 or emailing mark.smith@bedford.k12.mi.us.

The musical tells the story of the Edwardian-era Darling children, who are visited one night by the fairy Tinker Bell and the ageless boy Peter Pan, who fly though the nursery window and take the children to Neverland, where they enjoy an exhilarating, swashbuckling life free of adult supervision but are menaced by Captain Hook. It was adapted from the play and novel by J.M. Barrie.

The show contains a lot of physical action. Emily Farnan, a junior who has the lead role of Peter, said that's part of the challenge of her part. But as a cheerleader, she said, she's physically equal to the task. Emily, 17, said she also enjoys playing a boy.

Senior Trevor Sharp as Captain Hook confronts Peter Pan, played by junior Emily Farnan. Both say their characters are unlike their real-life personalities. Senior Trevor Sharp as Captain Hook confronts Peter Pan, played by junior Emily Farnan. Both say their characters are unlike their real-life personalities.
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"I'm a huge girlie girl. I'm into makeup and cheerleading. So it's wonderful to play someone who's totally different from what I am," she explained.

Emily said she has experience in other musicals and has been singing and playing guitar since second grade. She's been working on her British accent too, and to practice recites her favorite line: "To die would be an awfully big adventure."

"It's so powerful," she said of Peter's statement. "Little boys are always up for adventure." She noted that the line also showed Peter's naivete.

Captain Hook, the other lead, is played by Trevor Sharp, a lanky 17-year-old senior, who said he has nothing in common with the character he portrays.

"He's evil," Trevor said. "But it's a lot of fun to play someone like him."

Sophomore Amanda Fellman described her character, Wendy, as "a little girl who is very soft. She's very kind and motherly." The rehearsals, she said, "are a lot of work. I do a lot of songs."

Nate Mitchell is the fight choreographer and has been instructing the players in, among other things, swordplay and stage punches. He is a resident artist at the Purple Rose Theater in Chelsea, Mich., where he is an actor and choreographer, and a member of the American Society of Fight Directors.

"Safety is always the highest priority," he said. "But as people get better and more skillful, we can do things that are a little more risky. Stage violence is the illusion of violence. I would compare this more to learning to dance than to martial arts."

Ms. Smith said the production will use a "virtual set," which means a white scrim will drop across the stage like a movie screen and images will be projected on it.

When the cast members take to the air above London, "we're hoping that it really looks like they're coasting over rooftops," she said.



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