Last October 28, I met up with two of my closest college friends, and watched Repertory Philippines’ PETER PAN starring actor and artist Sam Concepcion, and a couple of other people that I either know or have worked with before when I was still active in the theater scene.
The experience was just MAGICAL. I love this story very much…I’ve watched the disney version, Hook and the most recent version as well. However, I haven’t read the book yet, but I’m meaning to soon. Seeing Peter Pan onstage, and seeing characters I have loved since childhood come to life onstage is truly a breathtaking and magical experience.
I was a little bit wary at first, because I wasn’t sure if Sam Concepciion would be able to pull off a character like this. Sam is a local actor/artist who was discovered because of Trumpets (a local, big theater group in the Philippines). However, he was able to pull it off because, well as I mentioned, before he got into showbiz, he was already doing musical theater, and also because of his age. He’s around 20 something, and he still has a certain boyish look to him which was perfect for the role of Peter Pan.
The Darling children were amazing, from Wendy (Cara Barredo) all the way to little Michael. The Lost Boys were playful and fun, the pirates were amazing, and Tiger Lily (Kakki Teodoro) and her braves only came on stage for little bits at a time, but in each time, Kakki was able to command the attention of the entire audience (Kakki is always like that anyway.)
For Tinkerbell (Kyla Rivera- she was the director of Blue Rep’s -my theater org’s, newbie play Sister Act when I was the Head Stage Manager), Kyla carried around a long stick that had a light at the very tip, which she always moved around the stage. Whenever Tinkerbell would say something to Peter or the Lost Boys, a piano would be played.
Michael Williams, a big theater veteran played Peter Pan’s arch nemesis- Captain Hook. His Captain Hook was charming and evil at the same time. I love the fact that during the last battle, they also removed his wig.
The set and in particular, the SET CHANGES were AWESOME. From the Darling bedroom, the set rotated and the bed became a building, the grandfather clock became Big Ben. As someone who was really involved with production before, things like this just amaze me. Also, I was surprised to hear the song Just Beyond the Stars being sung. I never knew that it came from Peter Pan. This was one of my favorite songs when I was younger, and I used to sing it all the time.
I was pleasantly surprised when at the very end of the play, the Narrator (Joy Virata) took of her coat and hat and transformed into Old Wendy. As the real story goes (not the Disney version). The ending made me tear up a little bit, with Wendy telling him that she has never forgotten about Peter, and Peter singing “Never Land” as he flies off to the night sky.
After the play, my friends and I discussed the meaning of Peter Pan. One of my friends was a little bit disturbed because when you come out of the theater, your emotions tend to be quite mixed. So we started asking ourselves what exactly does Peter Pan stand for? What is the message of the entire story? Why is Peter the lead character because somehow, in the end, you also pity him because he never does grow up?
When I was a kid, I thought of Peter as a symbol of fun, adventure and excitement. But as I sat there watching the play, I started to pity him because he never did grow up.
We then started discussing about how Peter might be a symbol, an ideal, and then we realized that he is an extreme. We realized that this story is really about Wendy, and that we should aim to be like her.
It’s pretty interesting how contrasting Peter and Wendy are. Wendy wants to grow up, and Peter doesn’t. In the end, Wendy does grow up, but she retains her childhood memories, and never forgets about Peter. Peter, on the other hand continues on being forever young, and consequently forgets about Wendy for quite a time.
It was then that we realized something. One of the messages that this story might be telling us is this: Have a childhood, but move on and grow up. BUT, never ever forget your childhood. We shouldn’t be afraid of growing up, of moving on, because, after all, life in itself is a big adventure.
I also realized that compared to my two friends, I am the one who is still stuck in that place between grown-up-ness and Never Land. Even though I am 23 years old going on 24 in two months time, and even though I am the eldest among five kids, I still am experiencing the fun that Never Land brings. I think it is because we are a young family. The youngest is 11 years old, and my parents still joke around and play with us a lot (like in the swimming pool) , even if there are times when they take off those masks and go back to being our parents, and being grown up. Also, maybe it’s also because of what I have (the residual Asperger’s) or maybe it is just my personality to look at things with child like wonder.
However, it doesn’t mean that I don’t put on the “grown- up mask” once in a while. I do. Like when I try to be a good older sister, when I go out with my friends, when I plan for the future, and when I work.
I don’t know whether it is a good thing or a bad thing; but there is one thing that I know for sure- this will probably end when my youngest brother becomes 18 years old. And I will probably cry, because my little baby brother isn’t my our baby anymore. I’m actually afraid that it might happen earlier, when he turns 15.
However, as of now, I will continue enjoying this state of being a grown up who still goes back to Never Land once in a while. And when I can no longer go back there, I will keep on living, planning for the future, living each day like everyone should, but I know that I will never ever forget the adventures that I had in Never Land.