Neverland Revisited: UI writers recast classic Peter Pan story through the eyes of Wendy

Wendy (Paige Erbele) gives Peter (Gail Harder) a thimble and calls it a kiss and Peter gives Wendy a bell, courtesy University of Idaho Photo Services - JOSEPH PALLEN
Joseph Pallen
Wendy (Paige Erbele) gives Peter (Gail Harder) a thimble and calls it a kiss and Peter gives Wendy a bell, courtesy University of Idaho Photo Services

We’ve heard many stories about Peter Pan -- now it’s time to hear from Wendy.

In an original twist on the classic tale, “Wendy & Peter: Into Neverland,” explores the world of fairies, pirates and children who never grow up through Wendy’s eyes; the show opens today at the University of Idaho in Moscow.

Based on the play and novel by J.M. Barrie, the original adaptation sought to fill a gap in the beloved tale.

“Almost every version and adaptation focuses on Peter, but I always felt there was an untold story in Wendy,” said Christina Holaday, a UI Master of Fine Arts candidate in the Department of Theatre Arts.

The story she tells explores what it means to be a child and what it means to make the decision to grow up, as well as the mother-daughter relationship shared by Wendy and Mrs. Darling. Holaday wrote the play along with fellow MFA candidates Keely Wright-Ogren and Alex Wendel. Wright-Ogren is co-directing the show with Holaday.

“There’s more to the story than the version we all know from Disney,” Holaday said.

The novel, for example, reveals that Mrs. Darling has also been to Neverland and that Peter Pan has visited the Darling home on more than one occasion. Mrs. Darling has ongoing understanding of the existence and role of Neverland and Holaday speculates that Tigerlily may be the part of Mrs. Darling that was left in Neverland.

“Neverland is a place where our inner child goes to live when we make the decision to grow up,” Holaday said. “The hope is that there’s a piece of Neverland in all of us.”

The play picks up some of the darker or more intense themes that are raised in the novel, but is family-friendly. Children enjoy the story, but Holaday hopes that adults will respond to the themes in a way that causes them to yearn for that child in them.

Neverland represents the imagination and its use, Holaday said. The set, then, is constructed largely of an item known to spark the imagination of children everywhere: the cardboard box. These boxes form the pirate ship and home in a way that complements the themes raised in the play.

All but one in the cast of 19 are UI students with the exception of one child who plays the part of Michael, the youngest Darling. Her presence highlights the importance of childhood, Holaday said, while the adult cast has had the opportunity to let the child within them come out and play.

IF YOU GO:

WHAT: “Wendy & Peter: Into Neverland”

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday and April 27-29, 2 p.m. Saturday and April 29

WHERE: Hartung Theater, University of Idaho, Moscow

COST: $15/general admission, $10/UI faculty, staff and people 55 and older, $5/children 12 and younger and free for UI students; tickets available at BookPeople or call Theatre Arts at (208) 885-6465 or at the door an hour before curtain.

BY DONATION SHOW: A pay-what-you-can show will be offered 5 p.m. April 30

On the Lewis-Clark State College stage

The classic Elizabethan tragedy, “Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus,” will be presented by the Lewis-Clark State College Theatre Program at 7:30 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday in the LCSC Silverthorne Theater.

Written by Christopher Marlowe and first performed in the late 1500s, the play recounts the life and death of Dr. Faustus and is based on German stories about the character. Directed by Jef Petersen and Emily Akin, the play includes angels, demons and adult scenes and may not be suitable for young children.

Tickets are $10/general admission and $7/seniors, non-LCSC students and military members; LCSC students are free with a valid student ID card.

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