This is part of IndyFringe 2022, Aug. 18-Sept. 4 (individual performance times vary) in downtown Indianapolis. Details and tickets at IndyFringe.org.
By Wendy Carson
As you might surmise, given my name, I have seen quite a few iterations of the Peter Pan story in my time. Indiana Drama Club, in collaboration with Arts for Lawrence, has brought us one of the most charming versions I have ever seen, “Peter/Wendy,” by Jeremy Bloom.
Once you enter the theater, the Lost Boys come around to audience members asking for happy thoughts, which they then write all over the set pieces. In the directors’ notes, Amanda Gwin and Rai Ortman mention an eraser wiping a chalkboard to a blank slate. To further compound this metaphor, the entirety of the set pieces have been decorated with chalkboard paint.
We begin with Peter (Isaiah Owens) not able to remember any of his adventures with Wendy (Teagan Cortez), therefore, she recounts them for him (and us).
We begin with her parents. Mrs. Darling (Sophia Sweeney) longs for a child but Mr. Darling (Malachi Adcock) worries that since they barely have enough money to cover their bills now, a child might bankrupt them. However, Wendy Darling’s arrival in the family is met with much love and joy.
Wendy grows up, saddened that everything must age and die. She wishes she could keep her favorite flower beautiful, and it would never age. Thus enters Peter Pan, the boy who can never grow up.
Peter promises to take her to a magical land where nothing ages. How can she resist? With a bit of pixie dust from Tinker Bell (Zoey Hornback), they fly off to Neverland.
Wendy meets Tiger Lily (Maggie Winnings), a human embodiment of the flower; the Lost Boys (Kaelynn Dussia, London Shallon, and Julia Jackson), who expect Wendy to be their new mother; and a mermaid (Lucy Meyers).
We are also introduced to the villainous Hook (Will Swigart) and his bumbling assistant Smee (Michael Morrow). They not only have a grudge against Pan, but also want to capture Wendy to be their own mother.
From here, the story plays similarly to other variants but is never really dark or foreboding. Owens brings forth the cocksure nature of Pan; Dussia, Shallon, and Jackson show the fierce desperation of children who just desperately want a mother; Winnings brings to Tiger Lily a mother nature vibe to give her a power beyond just being a pretty thing; while Meyers’ mermaid is not a major character, she makes her sweet and memorable.
Sweeney and Adcock show not only the love of the Darling parents but also the sadness and betrayal felt after she abandons them. Swigart especially stands out, as he milks every comic moment Hook has for all it’s worth while Morrow manages to hold his own against him.
Cortez shows Wendy as the adventurous girl who is ecstatic to be living out all of her dreams but also worries about getting back to her parents before they find she is missing.
I especially compliment everyone involved with bringing Tinker Bell to life. From her pixie form (as twinkling lights in a bulb) to her marvelous jingling speech (chimes attached to her ruffled skirt), added to Hornback’s feisty portrayal makes this the most delightful version of the character I’ve seen.
This production just wrapped with sellout performances at the IndyFringe Theatre. For more information on this program for young thespians, grades 6-12, visit IndianaDramaClub.com.