Just to make sure we’re all on the same page, the title of this review in no way implies that Boulder’s Dinner Theatre’s Peter Pan somehow manages to incorporate references to the medical marijuana dispensaries that have cropped up (heh, heh) on seemingly every other block in Boulder County over the past few months. No, BDT’s Peter Pan eschews topical, adult humor in a favor of the childhood whimsy more commonly associated with J. M. Barrie’s classic fantasy, and it’s all the better for it.
This Peter Pan arrives not only sans pot jokes, it dashes forth without a trace of irony or tongue in cheek genre shout outs. This is truly a child’s Peter Pan. Or, now that I think on it, perhaps it’s really a mother or grandfather’s Peter Pan as it is stripped of all the self-awareness that children these days have come to expect from fantasy works like the Shrek series. Regardless, this is a sweet and simple Peter Pan overflowing with good will and good cheer.
Credit Barrie’s timeless tale for a great deal of what works in BDT’s Peter Pan. The boy who refused to grow up and the effect he has on the interlopers from the “real” world is as magical today as it was when it was first produced more than 100 years ago. Pirates serve as well now — just ask Jerry Bruckheimer or Johnny Depp — as the moustache-twirling villains as they did in 1904. And only the coldest of hearts could resist the call to clap and believe in order to save little Tinker Bell’s life.
As usual, Boulder’s Dinner Theatre takes great material and surrounds it with top-of-the-line production values. Just as they made it pour for Singin’ in the Rain and brought Audrey II to Technicolor life for Little Shop of Horrors,
BDT will make you believe a woman playing a young boy can fly (to paraphrase the marketing tag line for the 1978 Superman). There’s no highfalutin’ CGI — this is a play, after all — and yes, you can definitely see the wires that lift Peter and the others up toward the firmament, but when the green-tighted one leads the Darling children off to Never Never Land or soars into battle against the craven Captain Hook, the effect is special, indeed.
Speaking of Hook, his pirate ship is one of the biggest, most impressive pieces of set design I’ve seen from BDT in ages. It virtually fills the stage during the climactic confrontation between Hook’s hearties and Pan’s lost boys. Kudos to Scenic Designer Amy Campion.
Joanie Brosseau-Beyette plays Pan — a short-odds casting choice for anyone familiar with BDT’s usual suspects — and never shines brighter than in the smaller moments, like when Pan is startled by Wendy as he snoops for his lost shadow. Brain Norber, another BDT regular, puts on Hook’s hook and swings it about with obvious relish. The rest of the cast, including BDT mainstays Wayne Kennedy, Shelly Cox-Robie, Brian Jackson, A.K. Klimpke and Alicia Dunfee along with a handful of children making their BDT and/or professional acting debuts, round the cast out nicely.
Peter Pan is such a success that superlatives seem inadequate, so allow me to illustrate how outstanding it is in another manner. There was, literally, a busload of middle schoolers at the performance I attended. I, for one, can think of any number of situations in which I would want to be as far away as possible from a large group of kids that age. A screening of any of the Twilight movies. A shopping mall — any shopping mall — within a month of the prom or two months of Christmas. A bris.
Yet even a gaggle of tweens, cell phones and all, were powerless before Peter Pan. It was they who led the cheering of Pan and Wendy. It was they who clapped loudest for Tink. It was even they who booed and hissed that mean ol’ Captain Hook. And really, if that doesn’t prove just how transcendent BDT’s Peter Pan is, then I’m not quite sure what would.
On the Bill
Peter Pan plays at Boulder’s Dinner Theatre, 55th and Arapahoe Ave., through Sept. 4. Tickets start at $35.
For tickets or information, call 303-449-6000, or visit www.bouldersdinnertheatre.com.