Arts & Theater

Theater review: Music Circus lets the fun fly with ‘Peter Pan’

Jenn Colella as Peter and Paul Schoeffler as Captain Hook face off in “Peter Pan,” produced by Music Circus at the Wells Fargo Pavilion.
Jenn Colella as Peter and Paul Schoeffler as Captain Hook face off in “Peter Pan,” produced by Music Circus at the Wells Fargo Pavilion.

“Peter Pan” doesn’t usually conjure the primal energy of a Blue Man Group spectacle, but the new Music Circus production felt that way opening night.

The second act of an already-energetic entertaining performance opened with an extended drum and dance sequence that easily becomes the set piece of the summer season.

That wasn’t the only action director Glenn Casale and choreographer Patti Colombo created with their game, physical cast, as the ensemble bounced acrobatically around the stage, Captain Hook tangoed, and of course, Peter Pan taught Wendy and her brothers how to fly.

There’s both a simple poignancy in the Peter Pan story that speaks to children and some knotty sexual psychology that gets adults thinking as well. Based on the play by James M. Barrie, the original Broadway production directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins opened in 1954, with Mary Martin winning a Tony Award for best actress in a musical. (A woman has traditionally portrayed Peter in both the play and the musical.) .

Jenn Colella’s tightly wound Peter is a brazen bundle of confidence who won’t slow down long enough to let his emotions cause him any doubt. Even though he realizes he has feelings for Wendy (the fine Lori Eve Marinacci), Peter clings defiantly to his code.

Peter just wants an uncomplicated life, to have fun and play all the time as he sings in “I Won’t Grow Up.” But the girls in his life want something more than just being friends, and his main gal pal, the fairy Tinker Bell, definitely understands the threat to her position when Peter pulls Wendy into the mix.

In Neverland, once Wendy becomes the mother to the Lost Boys (an excellent active ensemble led by Andy Richardson’s Slightly), there’s a sense of the nurturing they’d all like to have. There are complications, though, with Peter’s nemesis, Captain Hook (the grand Paul Schoeffler), lurking about and a band of Indians also in the mix. Casale deftly moves the story along, and Colombo continually gives the movement some clever pop.

There are several fine performances throughout, including Desireé Davar’s Tiger Lily, Aidan Winn and Joshua Davis as the Darling brothers, John and Michael, and Michael Nostrand as Hook’s first mate, Smee.

“Peter Pan” is not an unfamiliar piece, and even though it hasn’t been done at Music Circus since 1986, it was presented by Broadway Sacramento as recently in 2012. Still, this production has a vibrancy that gives the story freshness and it delighted the many children attending, which was helpful because Tinker Bell couldn’t make it without them.

Marcus Crowder: 916-321-1120, @marcuscrowder

Peter Pan

  • What: The Music Circus production with Jenn Colella, Paul Schoeffler and Lori Eve Marinacci. Glenn Casale directs with choreography by Patti Colombo.
  • When: 7:30 p.m. July 22-26. Matinees are 2 p.m. July 23, 25 and 26. .
  • Where: Wells Fargo Pavilion,1419 H St., Sacramento
  • Cost: $40 for children age 4-12; adult admission $40-$83
  • Information: (916) 557-1999; SacramentoMusicCircus.com; tickets.com
  • Time: Two hours and 20 minutes, including one intermission.
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