Saturday, October 29, 2011

Peter Pan (Repertory Philippines)


In a quest to reclaim his captured shadow, Peter Pan (Sam Concepcion) and Tinkerbell sneak into a room in a house in Bloomsbury and accidentally wake up the already sleeping Wendy (Tippy dos Santos), whose curiosity of the boy leads her, along with her two brothers, flying all the way to Neverland where they are awaited by the lost boys, Tiger Lily, and the cruel but hilarious Captain Hook.

This is one grand production and the first mention should definitely go to the use of harnesses to make the characters “fly”. It definitely adds something extra to the play and it is challenging to do because it is live. In books you just use your imagination. In films they can do CGI. Here, the harness is seen through the spotlights and one can easily observe how thin they are and how they seem to be attached only to the actors’ backs. It is thrilling in a way that you are half-expecting those threads to snap and see the flying characters land on one of the actors onstage. Kidding aside, when the darkness obscures the said harness, the view is plain awesome and it really gives one the illusion that the characters are really defying gravity.

Having said that, kudos to the flying actors! It must be hard to sing while on the air. It must have taken some time to get used to that but still they are able to deliver. Dos Santos, even though she is already young, still managed to go even younger through her appearance and body language, which makes her Wendy truly believable. Concepcion as Peter Pan is okay. The boy is a natural onstage and obviously well-trained. Hopefully, with more projects he would be able to establish a name for himself as a credible musical theater actor and steer away from being that guy who beat Charice Pempengco in a singing contest which seems to carry more negative vibes than positive. He has the talent and with Stages and Repertory Philippines guiding him he would surely improve.

Pinky Marquez and Joy Virata play the mother and old Wendy, respectively, and each gives a heartfelt performance to be expected from veterans onstage. Half of the audience gave a standing ovation in the end and my eyes were fixed on Marquez, who was visibly touched by the appreciation of the audience. It is always cool to see such theater actors who still feel that way despite the long years they have already spent in the industry. It just goes to show how passionate they are with regards to their craft. It makes one appreciate the production more because of that evident dedication.

Tinkerbell is portrayed as a ball of light but the girl who controls the light is also visible onstage although she is garbed in black. She also acts onstage as her facial expressions are clearly visible, which makes you think that maybe it would have been better if they just got rid of the light altogether and just threw in an actress in a Tinkerbell costume in there, may it be a kid or someone smaller that they could bathe in light through effects. Besides, kids would still buy that.

One important thing to note is that this is a play for kids, although adults are not banned from watching it. Due to that the musical numbers are flamboyant most of the time, with subtlety giving way to extravagance to keep the attention of the younger audience. While you might be watching this as a chaperone or just out of curiosity, there are still many aspects of the story that would appeal to you, like the perpetual theme of not wanting to grow old. Anyone could relate to that, and it is but evident that we all live in a society that is not so welcoming of the idea of aging, whether in a superficial or figurative sense. The musical gives you a clear message as you see the contrast between Peter Pan who has youth everlasting and Wendy, who ages in the play and moves on to experience different things in her life. For people in their twenties who are lost and trying to find their purpose in life and are itching to just go back to being kids, this musical is highly recommended. Just for perspective’s sake.

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