Though Peter Pan wins in the end, the story will belong to Captain Hook.

After all, his name is in the title of Circus Louisiana's production, "Hook, Across Neverland."

"We took the story of Captain Hook and created our own storyline," Circus owner and director David Gabel said. "He was such a charismatic villain that the story allows it, but, you know, Peter Pan and the Lost Boys are going to be victorious at the end of the day."

But don't expect this family show in the Manship Theatre to play out as regular theater. Circus Louisiana's "Hook" will be performed in the same vein as Cirque du Soleil's with aerial silks, acrobatics, gymnastics, juggling, breakdancing and dancing as the pirate captain sails across Neverland after kidnapping two children.

Peter Pan and his Lost Boys launch a rescue mission and seek revenge as the 36-member cast execute some 15 circus disciplines. 

"It's a combination of telling the story visually, but we're branching out and doing theater, where we have our people doing some lines, as well," Gabel said. "It's a little bit of the theater side with the lines within a whole lot of the circus stuff."

"Hook, Across Neverland" marks Circus Louisiana's second production. The first, "Dark Surface," was staged in 2019, also in the Manship Theatre.

The show is a collaborative effort by Gabel's GymFit BR with Aerial Refuge in Dutchtown and the Danse Difference in Gonzales.

"We decided to do this story, because I know I can make Peter Pan fly across the stage," Gabel said. "My Tinkerbell will fly across the stage, too."

Starring as Hook will be Qasim Baheth, of Baton Rouge.

"He's extremely physical and very talented," Gabel said. "So expect to see our Hook running, dancing and dropping."

Brooks Waite, also of Baton Rouge, plays Peter Pan.

The rest of the cast is Louisiana-based, which was one of Gabel's goals when he opened GymFit BR four years ago. He started a training program in circus performing arts through the gym, then established Circus Louisiana as an arts and entertainment nonprofit.

Gabel originally planned to take "Hook" on the road to Lafayette, Alexandria, Monroe and New Orleans after its Manship debut, but the coronavirus pandemic has put that on hold.

"COVID is putting a bit of a damper there," Gabel said. "We're going to film it and hopefully get it livestreaming, as well. But I would love to go on tour with it. I've already reached out to some of the other arts councils about bringing it to their cities."

Next up for Circus Louisiana will be a Dec. 4 production focusing on Christmas myths, heroes and villains. But for now, "Hook," takes the spotlight.

"We're just trying to get some traction and get people's attention on it, because I know everyone's tired of being in their houses," Gabel said. "People are getting their vaccinations, so let's see if we can get them to come out and see the awesome things we've been working on."

'Hook, Across Neverland'

2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday

Manship Theatre, 100 Lafayette St.


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