If you believe – really believe – that there is magic in the theater, then head to the Wick Theater in Boca Raton and you’ll find it in the top-flight production of Peter Pan, which debuted Saturday night.
Peter Pan first in 1954, yet this classic shows that there is nothing like a captivating story, lush music, and dance numbers and -yes- a bit of magic to make a show that is synonymous with entertainment.
The Wick’s production stars Shanon Mari Mills, and she is a simply splendid Peter Pan. Mills was Cathy Rigby’s understudy for second Broadway revival of Peter Pan years ago, and she is still the embodiment of the boy-who-wouldn’t grow up. The rest of the main cast rises to the challenge as well. Robin Hayes, who is fine as the uptight Mr. Darling, really gets to cut loose as the flamboyant Captain Hook; Ann Marie Olson (Mrs. Darling), finally gets to show off her bell-like voice towards the end of the show. As the Darling children, Lindsay Bell is fetching and beautifully voiced as the poignant Wendy; Trever Wayne is a fine John and Ryan Sell, as young Michael shows same aplomb he showed in the Wick productions of Mame and George M.
The pirates are a hoot, whether they are singing, dancing, or engaging in various shenanigans. Among the standouts are Wesley Slade, as Mr. Smee, Hook’s fawning second-in-command and Wick veteran Troy Stanley as the swaggering Gentleman Starkey. Leading the Indians is Emily Tarallo, who, as Tiger Lily, is simply lovely.
Kudos also go to Nicholas Chimienti, who plays the Darling’s dog, Nana, and, we will hazard a guess, the menacing Crocodile, since they are never on stage at the same time. (Shhh, don’t tell the kids).
But what has always elevated Peter Pan is the flying, just as magical now as when Mary Martin took wing 61 years ago. The magic begins from the moment when Peter and the Darling children take flight and sail through their bedroom window, and throughout intervals during the entire production, especially – and thanks to the Wick’s skillful use of projections – over the rooftops of London. And we also learn that at the very beginning, when the fairy Tinker Bell was only a beam of green light, before her Disney animation, she was as outspoken and spirited as ever.
There’s a lot going on in Peter Pan, what with pirates, Indians, flying and what not, but under the director of Michael Ursura, this adaptation of the J.M. Barrie classic remains sharp, and choreographer Shanna Sells’ version of the Jerome Robbins’ choreography is enchanting. And with a lushscore by Jule Styne,with lyrical assist from Betty Comden and Adolph Green, how can you go wrong.
As usual, though, what sets a Wick production apart from the rest is the special is the care that Marilynn and Kimberly Wick lavish on the details. For instance, after this opening night performance, the entire cast materialized immediately after the curtain dropped, still clad in their colorful costumes, to mingle, take selfies, and and dazzle the children in the audience, ensuring that this is a show they will remember for their entire lives.
Peter Pan continues through Aug. 23. Dining is also available in the Wick’s restaurant, and you can stop in their wonderful gift shop and pick up a green felt Peter Pan hat to complete the experience.
More info: The Wick Theatre