Eastlight Theatre opened the 1954 musical version of “Peter Pan” in the East Peoria High School auditorium on Sept. 18. The original Broadway cast starred Mary Martin as Peter, the boy who would never grow up, and Cyril Richard as his nemesis, Captain Hook. Both actors won Tony Awards for their performances and regardless of the spectacle of the flying, the show is leaden without competent performers in those two roles. Happily the Eastlight production is favored with two outstanding local actors in the leads. First is Rose Blume as Peter. She is simply wonderful, full of boyish energy, natural charm and a trained voice. Her physicality is just right for the adolescent boy, and her rendition of “I Gotta Crow” is perfect. She has remarkable stage presence and skill for a high school senior. Playing opposite her is the talented veteran actor Mike Reams as the “creepiest creep of them all” as he describes himself in his hilarious rendition of “Hook’s Waltz,” a song that is the epitome of comedic music hall villainy. His “swish-buckling” Captain in blue eye shadow is the highlight of the proceedings and keeps the laughs coming throughout.
The children in the company brought quick applause with their rendition of “Ugh-a-Wugg,” a silly Indian style song until they all joined in drumming on the floor a rhythmic tap number only with sticks. It was as if the show “STOMP” had arrived in Neverland and the ensemble clearly was enjoying the intricacies of their drumming.
J.M. Barrie’s play opened in 1904 when many children had precarious lives working in textile mills, mines and other difficult and dangerous jobs prior to the enactment of protective child labor laws. In America, protective child labor laws were not enacted until well into the 20th century. Earlier attempts at restricting child labor had been struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional.
Peter and his gang of lost boys live in a dangerous world, and they ask Wendy to tell them stories that we imagine reminds them of their absent homes. Peter is torn between desire for a nurturing home but also a protective defensiveness of bravado as he clings to his independence and avoidance of relationships. Children today are perhaps not so taken with pirates or Indians as those of a hundred years ago, but they face their own challenges as witnessed by behavioral problems at school and the increasingly harsh treatment by the juvenile justice system. Children today are locked in solitary confinement or handcuffed at school as was the recent case with the child who brought his clock to school in Texas. The interesting question for me is how many of today’s children are from the “Darling family” versus those who are part of the “lost boys”?
A year ago I reported on the Gilbert brothers, Corey and Curtis, originally from Tremont, who have their video production company in Chicago, P3Mediaworks, and their filming on location in the Mackinaw River valley. I am pleased to report that the trailer for that series, “Convergence,” has won the first-place award in a global competition for trailers (who knew such a thing existed) by Filmmaker Magazine. I also reported the trailer was first rate in its production and now there is an award to confirm that. You will find a link to the trailer in our digital version at thecommunityword.com.
The Gilbert’s company handles all phases of video: pre, post and production, thus the 3p. Their work is very good. They have made a living doing advertising and educational/pr for some major corporate clients and have obviously mastered the mechanics of filmmaking. “Convergence” marks their initial venture into narrative storytelling. The series is based around oil companies and a future energy source and is labeled a sci-fi drama.
Finally, it is the start of the NFL season. I am not all that excited about it due