An open magical place awaits as the Creative Cauldron brings its own take on “Peter Pan and Wendy.”
“We like to tackle big iconic stories, particularly classics, and look at them through a 21st century lens and sensibility, while still staying true to their core,” said Laura Connors Hull, producing director and founder of the Creative Cauldron located in Falls Church.
Using the original J.M. Barrie novel as the source, “rather than the popular play version, we are freed to make many new creative choices about how the story is told,” added Hull. After all, Barrie “provided rich imagery for Neverland and the characters that inhabit it, but he has also left room for our own imagination.”
The Creative Cauldron’s “Peter Pan and Wendy” still follows Wendy Darling and her brothers into high adventures into far off Neverland where life is one big exciting journey. Neverland is a thrilling place above the clouds where the Lost Boys still seek a mother, and Captain Hook and a Croc are still to be battled.
To whet children’s imaginations, the Creative Cauldron will be “contrasting the ‘real’ world of the Darling nursery and the ‘fantasy’ world of Neverland, by making the Darling home a puppet theater. Everything that happens there is rather small and contained; very ‘adult’. It is only in the realm of imagination, in the world of Neverland that things become larger than life,” according to Hull.
The Creative Cauldron will add its own singular features, such as original, large-scale puppets designed by Arts Council of Fairfax County Strauss Fellow Margie Jervis (Falls Church) and original music composed by composer, singer and actor Matt Conner who has appeared in professional stage productions throughout the area. Both are key to heightening the action and letting the imagination soar. As in musical theater, the songs become a narrative element to sometimes replace spoken dialogue.
The “Peter Pan and Wendy” cast includes elementary and middle school students but professional actors such as Dani Danger Stoller as Peter Pan. Stoller has appeared in previous Creative Cauldron productions such as “Nevermore” as well as Fairfax’s 1st Stage. Gus Knapp, who has previously performed in Creative Cauldron’s shows and is a local living history re-enactor, is Captain Hook..
According to Jervis, Creative Cauldron has “been working with puppets more and more as an extension of the actor’s story world. Puppets can do things that real people can’t do, we can alter the realities of gravity and place more easily for a puppet, than for an actor.”
“Young audiences love puppets, they are fascinated by them and make the leap to believing the puppets are alive without a second thought. After the show kids always love to be introduced to the puppets and to interact with them,” added Jervis.
When asked about the music and lyrics he created for the show, Conner indicated that “The music and lyrics for the show are very multi-generational. I wanted to touch children and adults all the same since the show has a universal theme of ‘never growing up.’ So I chose to write music and lyrics that would range from beautiful ballads to fun crowd pleasing numbers.”
“The story has a wonderful plethora of places and characters that invoke such vivid styles that I was very excited to embrace and bring to life,” said Conner.
The Creative Cauldron is a recipient of an Arts Council of Fairfax County grant to take story-telling on the road to a number of Fairfax County public schools. Plans are moving forward to present shows that focus on different regions of the world such as South America, the Polynesian Islands and West Africa. There will be folk stories and legends presented for free by professional actors and dancers using large scale puppets. There will also be music.
Linda Sullivan, President and CEO for the Arts Council of Fairfax County, indicated that the grant helps “to spur new performances, advance community partnerships, and support educational activities both in and out of the classroom. We’re proud to support Creative Cauldron’s new initiative.”
The Peter Pan story celebrates the importance of imagination. “I would hope that everyone who sees our production, especially the adults, will come away with a new found sense of their own ability to play,” Sullivan said. Hull quoted playwright George Bernard Shaw who said: “We don’t stop playing because we get old. We get old because we stop playing.”