‘Peter Pan’ ages well

Posted 6/2/10

It is never hard to suspend disbelief for “Peter Pan.” J.M. Barrie’s story is so embedded in the collective conscience that flying boys, fairy …

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‘Peter Pan’ ages well


It is never hard to suspend disbelief for “Peter Pan.”

J.M. Barrie’s story is so embedded in the collective conscience that flying boys, fairy dust and disembodied shadows make perfect sense to anyone — and everyone — who has pondered the notion of never-ending childhood.

Even the traditional casting of an adult woman in the role of young Peter gets a free pass in this durable standby.

The Boulder’s Dinner Theatre production of the 1954 Broadway musical has the right measure of familiarity as Pan and friends take their literal flights of fancy across Neverland on stage wires.

This is a story we have all seen before — via storybooks, Disney, Mary Martin, Steven Spielberg and even pop psychology. As long as Peter’s in green and the Captain’s got his hook, the audience is primed for on-stage Pandemonium and bittersweet metaphor.

The Boulder production wisely keeps to the formula, but its talented cast brings life and a kind of spontaneity that one does not always find in a story that is so familiar.

Brian Norber is cartoonishly devious as Captain Hook, but he tinkers the fourth wall with enough slight nods and winks that the audience can almost nudge his pirate’s hat.

As part of this dinner theater’s tradition, the hard-working cast is also the wait staff, which gives “non-grownups” of all ages the chance to hiss or otherwise chide the villainous pirate when he delivers their desserts or makes way with a cup of decaf.

“The best part I liked was when everyone was saying boo and Captain Hook said, ‘C’mon!’” remarked Davey, my 9-year-old theater companion.

Joanie Brousseau-Beyette is charming, and may seem slightly mature for the part of Peter. But her comedic, dramatic and acrobatic skills remind that age and gender are relative concepts in Barrie’s fanciful Neverland.

Ellen Kaye’s bright-eyed, broad smile brings a sweetness of youth to Wendy, the play’s iconic older sister, the one who eventually grows up, despite clear promises to the contrary.

Although adulthood can be stayed off for a time in “Peter Pan,” not so, children’s bedtimes. This critic recommends weekend matinees, considering a four-hour commitment of dinner and theater — not that my son was ever bored.

The play’s magic of childhood continues some 100 years after “Peter Pan” first came to life. The idea of remaining always a child resonates as much for work-a-day parents as it does for imaginative children munching the macaroni and cheese.

That is certainly the case when Wendy inevitably matures and is greeted by the dismayed, eternally young Peter Pan during the play’s afterthought.

“It was weird because she promised not to ,” Davey said of the denouement. “I don’t want to grow up and go to college, middle school or high school. There’ll be too many bullies and I’m scared.”

If you go

”Peter Pan” plays the Boulder Dinner Theater, 5501 Arapahoe Ave. in Boulder, through Sept. 4.

Tickets are $35 to $56, depending on section and evening, and include dinner.

Call 303-449-6000 or visit bouldersdinnertheatre.com for tickets and more information.


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