All right, everyone, clap your hands and repeat after Peter Pan: “I believe in fairies.”
- Say it again, because if you don’t, Tinkerbell will fade into nothing, and where will that leave the Manship Theatre’s Music Production Camp?
Well, without Tinkerbell, of course. And no production of “Peter Pan” would be complete without Tinkerbell.
So, clap your hands and shout out that you do believe in fairies and Lost Boys and pirates and even mermaids as the Music Production campers stage “Peter Pan Jr.” not once but twice at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Manship Theatre.
“This is the second year we’ve produced the camp ourselves,” says Melanie Couvillion, director of the Manship’s Family Programming and Events.
Couvillion also is the associate director of “Peter Pan Jr.,” alongside director Paige Gagliano, who will be the director of production in Episcopal High School’s theater department in the fall. The Manship’s executive director, Renee Chatalain, is the choreographer for this show.
“The Missoula Children’s Theatre used to come in and do this camp,” Chatalain says. “But we started thinking about it. Paige has been directing plays for a long time, and Melanie used to work at Radio City Music Hall in New York. And I used to be a dancer, so we decided that we had enough in-house experience locally to produce this camp, ourselves.”
The camp runs for two weeks with children ages 8-13 learning all aspects of musical theater production. All campers also are cast members.
- “We have auditions ahead of time, so each cast member came into the camp already knowing their lines and songs,” Couvillion says. “That gave us an opportunity to go straight into blocking the show.”
- “We want to emphasize that the process is the most important part of this camp,” Chatelin adds later.
But a successful process surely means successful performances.
Alex St. Cyr is ready. He’s an 11-year-old homeschool student who, as Peter Pan, will be imploring the audience to believe in fairies. This will happen when Ethan Wax as Captain Hook poisons Tinkerbell, played by Emma Grace Lambert.
Tinkerbell’s light starts fading, signaling that she’s about to die. The only thing that can save her is a display of support from the audience.
“I’m going to be a little nervous in that scene, but I’m always ready when I step on stage,” Lambert says.
She’s an 11-year-old sixth grader at St. Aloysius Catholic School. This is her fourth year as a camp participant and the first for her Captain Hook nemesis Wax, who will be a 13-year-old eighth grader at Episcopal High in the fall.
“I was a little surprised when they called and told me that I would be playing Captain Hook,” Wax says. “When I auditioned, I would have been happy with any part, but I am happy with Captain Hook.”
And though most people automatically would call him the bad guy, Wax doesn’t see Hook as evil.
“You have to consider where he’s coming from and who he is,” Wax says.
That’s part of the process taught in camp, researching the background of characters, which leads to an understanding of who they are while building their stage personalities.
Take Peter Pan, for instance. St. Cyr describes Peter as always cheerful and ready to solve any problem. Yet at the same time, he sees Peter as boastful, a show off.
“He’s a little boy,” St. Cyr says, laughing.
Which is the whole point of Peter Pan’s story — he’s forever a boy living in Neverland. Scottish novelist and playwright J.M. Barrie created this boy who leads his gang of Lost Boys on a continuous childhood adventure. His play, “Peter Pan, the Boy Who Would Grow Up,” was first performed in 1904.
And one night, a little girl named Wendy Darling, along with her brothers John and Michael, are paid a visit by Peter, who whisks them to an adventure in Neverland.
Now, Peter won’t actually be flying in this production, meaning there will be no wire hoisting him above the stage.
“But he’ll be flying in our imaginations,” Chatelain says.
And the imagination is what it’s all about, pretending to live in a child’s world, where anything is possible.
Especially the magic of fairies.
- CAST: Alex St. Cyr, Peter Pan; Emma Grace Lambert, Tinker Bell; Catherine Brien, Iridessa; Anna Katherine Harrell, Silvermist; Maeve Zelden, Rosetta; Piper Kelly, Fawn; Wendy Smith, Lyria; Bailey Cook, Vidia; Ellie Foco, Calypso; Caroline Feduccia, Wendy; Niles Babin, John; Virginia Moore, Michael; Michael Chatelain, Mr. Darling/Indian; Victoria Sanchez-Galarza, Mrs. Darling/Indian; Presley Ainsworth, Nana/Pirate; Ethan Wax, Captain Hook; Anna Kathryn Dupre, Smee; Kaitlyn Landry, Pirate-Jukes; Clara Lloyd, Pirate- Flint; Taryn Sternitzky, Pirate-Cookson; Anna Smith, Pirate-Murphy; Connor Davis, Pirate-Noodler; Hannah Wilkerson, Pirate-Skylights; Stephen Sclafani, The Crocodile/Lost Boy; Jordan Simoneaux, Lost Boy-Hop; Emma Grace Marangos, Lost Boy-Cubby; Grace Gagliano, Lost Boy-Skunk; Kallan Butler, Lost Boy-Fox; Ava Blakeman, Lost Boy-Raccoon Twin; Stephen Sclafani, Lost Boy-Raccoon Twin; Sarah Barton, Chief Tiger Bamboo; Sydnie Larkins, Tiger Lily; Hannah Wilkerson, Indian-Brave Pine; Anna Smith, Indian-Brave Oak; Kaitlyn Landry, Indian-Brave Shrub; Indian Chorus/Dancers — Michael Chatelain, Victoria Sanchez-Galarza, Lauren Larkins, Helen Schliewe, Anna Foco, Anna Roppolo, Micah Sherman; Arista Mermaids — Ellie Foco, Bailey Cook, Anna Katherine Harrell, Piper Kelly, Catherine Brien, Wendy Smith, Maeve Zelden
- ARTISTIC STAFF: Paige Gagliano, director; Melanie Couvillion, associate director; Renee Chatelain, choreographer