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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
PETER PAN
at Paper Mill Playhouse

NEVER NEVER LAND
By ROBERT L. DANIELS

  Douglas Sills and company/ Ph: Kevin Sprague

The boy who wouldn't grow up, who is a century old by now, has flown onto the stage of the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn in New Jersey. Sir James M. Barrie's mischievous and ever-whimsical Peter Pan, the 1955 Broadway tuner, is so sublimely staged that it guarantees to delight audiences of all ages. Paper Mill Artistic Director Mark Hoebee has staged the musical fantasy with the accent on unlimited fun and fantasy.
 
First and foremost in a keenly balanced cast is pretty and puckish Nancy Anderson in the title role. She engages in tumbling cartwheels and somersaults, leaps over canisters and flies through the air with the greatest of ease. Anderson harnesses all the playful wit of her character. She also happens to be a well-schooled cabaret and concert singer, and the familiar songs “I've Gotta Crow,” “I Won't Grow Up” and “Neverland” have never sounded so appealing.
 
Anderson is ably supported by Douglas Sills, who doubles as the sternly gruff Mr. Darling and the pursuing pirate king Captain Hook. Sills arouses great giggles with his wicked little conic asides. He also turns “Hook's Waltz” into a scene-stealing musical turn. There is sweet support from Haley Podschun as Wendy and Paper Mill veteran Glory Crampton as Mrs. Darling, who offers the lullaby “Tender Shepherd.”
 
The score was composed by Carolyn Leigh and Mark Charlap, with firm and able assistance from Jule Styne, Betty Comden and Adolph Green. I have always been of the impression that the wittiest words came from Green's pen.
 
The choreography by Patti Colombo, inspired by the original patterns designed by Jerome Robbins, is gloriously vivid. The “Ugg-a-Wugg” ballet sequence is a grandly festive turn led by the foxy Tiger Lily danced by Jessica Lee Goldyn.
 
For the record, this revival was far more palatable than the last Broadway turn in 1998 with Cathy Rigby. The opening-night audience, dotted with little children, was attentive, well behaved and clearly enthralled with the wide-eyed wonder of a captivating theatrical experience.
 

 


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