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Peter flies in

HOOKED ON BEING A KID: Peter Pan, played by Daniel James, right, will try to outsmart Captain Hook, Martin Buote, at the City Playhouse this weekend and next. (Courtesy Sheryl Amirault)

Peter Pan simply won’t grow up. He doesn’t want to.

Why would he when his life — an endless childhood on the island of Neverland full of flying and mischief and pirates and fairies — is so much fun?

He does sometimes make special trips out of Neverland to share his magic with kids of all ages: This month, Peter, Wendy, Captain Hook, the Lost Boys and the Indians have made Vaughan their home away from home.

Marquee Productions’ take on the classic tale begins its run at the City Playhouse with preview shows Nov. 21 and 22. Regular shows are set for Nov. 27–30 before Peter flies north to the Newmarket Theatre in December.

“There’s so much going on,” Peter Pan producer Sheryl Amirault says. “It is so entertaining and it’s funny — it’s silly funny — and it’s magical because of the flying and the acting.”

True to Marquee’s mandate as a community theatre company, the cast of Peter Pan is made up of more than 40 amateur actors. But don’t let that fool you into thinking the production isn’t top-notch, because it is, Amirault says.

“The actors — and (the) performances of these people who are everyday people in your community — their talent is outstanding,” she says. “There’s a little bit of stigma attached to the words ‘community theatre’ for some reason and also to the word ‘volunteer’.

“A lot of people just think that the calibre is lessened for some reason and that’s just simply not the case, especially in this particular production.”

It’s more than just the large cast that makes this production of Peter Pan a standout, Amirault says. For the show to fly, Peter had to, too.

Marquee hired a company from Kentucky with the expertise and equipment to get Peter, played by 24-year-old Daniel James, and others in the cast off the ground.

“I have never trained so hard for a role in my life or put so much of myself into something,” James said in a statement. “I had to acquire a personal trainer just to keep up with the insane amount of singing-while-dancing, not to mention the flying, which is basically doing yoga and Pilates in the air for two hours.”

James is making his Marquee debut in Peter Pan, as is Taylor Kuryliw, playing Peter’s friend Wendy Darling. Martin Buote plays Captain Hook, the over-the-top villain and Peter’s nemesis.

Hook’s a “snappy dresser”, Buote said. But then so is the rest of the cast, Amirault says.

“It’s something that people have to see,” she says. “The entire set and costumes have all been built from scratch. They’re outstanding.”

Rachel Berchtold, a European-trained master tailor, heads Marquee’s costume division, which has become so good at what it does that it’s been spun into its own business, Amirault says.

No Peter Pan production wouldn’t be complete without singing and dancing, and this one has lots of both with some new and unique twists, including a percussive number by the Indians.

“Think of Stomp,” Amirault says. “It’s amazing. Really cleverly done by our choreographer (Baiba Senecal).

“It’s not in everybody’s productions of Peter Pan. It’s something that the choreographer put in herself.”

Previews of Peter Pan are set for Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m., and Nov. 22 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. at the City Playhouse Theatre. Preview tickets are $20. Regular shows run Nov. 27–29 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 29–30 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults, $22 for kids 12 and under and seniors 60 and up, and $20 per ticket for groups of 15 or more. Tickets can be reserved at 905-882-7469.

“Just come and see it,” Amirault says. “You won’t be disappointed.

“It’s outstanding. It really is an awesome show.”

Vaughan Today
In print: November 21, 2008, page 6
Online: November 20, 2008 [link]