Peter Pan: Carousel Players Give Neverland A New Twist

Peter Pan: Carousel Players Give Neverland A New Twist

By David DeRocco

Why is Peter Pan always flying? Because he never lands. In fact, Pan is soaring again thanks to a quirky new production of the timeless classic being produced by Niagara’s award-winning Carousel Players .

Forget what you think you know about this J.J. Barrie story. This Peter Pan project started four years ago when a group of recent theatre grads got together and imagined a new adaptation of the story including their own original music. That version enjoyed a unique sold-out holiday run through Toronto brew pubs, playing to more adults than the traditional children’s audience usually targeted for stagings of Peter Pan. In this unique version being scheduled at multiple venues across Niagara, Peter Pan is played by a woman, Fiona Sauder, who along with Reanne Spitzer co-adapted this original production for Bad Hats Theatre in Toronto. This inventive and interactive production will appeal to the imaginations of both young and old according to Carousel Players artistic director, Monica DuFault.

“They’ve developed a story that’s very transportable,” said DuFault, the former artistic director at Niagara’s Essential Collective Theatre. “With the original tour of microbreweries this played really well with adult audiences, even though it’s a beloved story for kids. It’s very low tech but what they’ve captured so beautifully is the desire for all of us, whether we’re adults, kids or kids at heart, to imagine and to believe that anything is possible.”

The production incorporates a thrust stage set up, meaning the audience surrounds the performers on three sides. Children attending are sat closer to the stage so they can be fully immersed in the action, and even brought on stage during different scenes.

“There are many moments of interactivity,” said DuFault, who says the stripped down production means it can be effectively staged in all different kinds of spaces. “It’s all very fast paced. Using very few props, costumes and set pieces they manage to transform the space and settings into these different places very quickly. They’ve created their own original music, and they all play instruments on stage. There’s no recorded music. It’s all live and a very folky, jazzy kind of feel. They’re an incredibly talented group.”

This version of Peter Pan represents a different model for Carousel Players, the long-running and award-winning Niagara theatre company dedicated to producing inspiring and challenging works of theatre for children in schools, theatres and other venues.

“I think for Carousel Players, we’re so pleased to be producing this and bringing it all around the Niagara region,” said DuFault. “ It’s a little different for us. We tour always but usually we tour to schools. Now we’re doing a combination of public performances at places like the First Ontario Performing Arts Centre here, the Performing Arts Centre in Burlington, and also these smaller halls like the new Pelham Community Centre, the Welland Community Wellness Complex and the Sanctuary in Ridgeway. We’re trying to get the show in each of the municipalities in the Niagara Region so families don’t always have to travel to St. Catharines. They can have live professional theatre coming to them.”

Peter Pan runs October 10th through October 28. Here’s a full list of shows: