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Peter Pan Opens At

Arizona Broadway Theatre

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Peoria Based Dinner Theater Company Brings The Flying, Pirate Fighting, Perpetual Child To The Phoenix Metro With A Laugh-Heavy Rendition Of The Beloved Classic


By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine

July 21, 2014 — The Arizona Broadway Theatre, 7701 W. Paradise Lane, Peoria, just opened the second to last play of their ninth season, Peter Pan, to a sold out audience in their beautiful dining room and theater on July 11. The show itself was magnificent, and combined the skills of many nuanced actors along with the jovial nature of children playing lead roles for the first time, and an obviously mastered group of technicians who made the show really pop with superb lighting, ornate costumes, believable set pieces, and of course, flying.

“It went great, so much landed the way we hoped it would, pathos and the comedy that was present,” said the show’s director Mace Archer.

The comedy certainly did hit big with the family audience. While there were a few obvious theater buffs in the house, the crowd was mostly parents and their children.

But even for those without a family entourage, the experience was exceptional. The entire staff exhibited the utmost professionalism. From the door greeter, to the ticket taker, to all of the waitstaff nothing but smiles and good manners: not a slouch in the bunch.

The theater is truly a great scene setter for all involved. Although the lobby does come off a bit campy, it adds to the charm. It’s nice to know that even so far away from New York City, the spirit of Broadway is considered in Peoria. The theater even went as far as to have an usher show each individual party to their table: a classy move that even Broadway no longer makes.

The evening began with the food service, which was phenomenal. The wait staff was pleasant, knowledgeable about the theater, the show, and the food, and most importantly, they were fast. The food and beverages offerings were chosen to fit with the show, another nice touch. The specialty drinks were obviously show-specific: “Hooks Hooch,” and “Fairy Dust,” after Captain Hook and Tinkerbell. The menu options more subtly accentuated that at it’s core, Peter Pan is a tropical island adventure. So many of the dishes were cooked with tropical fruits like mangos, coconuts, prickly pears, pineapple, and even kiwis. If you make it to the show make sure to try the Tomato Coconut Ginger Bisque.

Regardless of how delicious all of the food was — and even the after dinner mint — the real treat of the evening was performance on stage.

Pan, played by David Errigo Jr brought a bratty quality to the character that highlighted the doubled edged sword that Pan’s attitude toward growing up represents. While of course the character was brave, well intentioned, and heroic. Errigo Jr. brought to life much of the characters brashness, niavity, and selfishness that doesn’t quite come through in the Disney version.

“I think that this Peter Pan is something we are all really proud of. I think most people get the Disney Peter Pan in their heads, but we have been really faithful to the themes and story of Peter Pan,” said Archer.

Also Errigo Jr’s work on the aerial scenes was seamless, he looked incredibly natural flying through the air or walking up walls.

The Captain Hook actor Kiel Klaphake created was tremendous. Of all the characters, Hook had the most intense costume which perhaps made it easier for him to really inhabit the character’s head space. There are many screen and stage examples of the notorious villain and Klaphake did a great job of not recreating one but inventing a new interpretation. Furthermore, his portrayal of both the compassionate Mr. Darling, and the ‘dastardly’ Hook showed a vast range.

Sara Powell provided a fully fleshed-out performance as Wendy Darling. While the character remained sweet, kind, and loving, Powell brought to light a bit more of an eagerness to please, impetuousness, and bossiness that the character doesn’t exhibit in every adaptation. Powell strongly portrayed both sides of her eagerness to grow up. On the one hand, she is obviously a very nice girl with maternal instincts, but at the same time, she is not quite ready to be a mother to one, let alone a group of boys.

Perhaps the most perfect performance, however, was not by a lead actor, but was Jeremy Crawford as Hook’s firstmate, Smee. Crawford’s delivery was impeccable, and he squeezed the last laugh out of almost every scene. He had the right look, the right voice, and impeccable timing that had he been provided a bit more stage time, the words “stole the show” just might be applicable.

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