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Peter Pan

The magic comes to Williamsport High School

The magic comes to Williamsport High School

February 28, 2002|By KATE COLEMAN

Think lovely thoughts.

Think "Peter Pan."

With a sprinkle of fairy dust and a ticket to the show, you can visit Neverland, a faraway place where you never have to grow up.

Williamsport High School's Sophisti'Cats,' the school's show choir, and the Thaylian Players will take high school musical theater to new heights tonight through Sunday, March 3, with their presentation of "Peter Pan."

The production of the high-flying musical is the first by a school in Washington County or in the Tri-State, says veteran director Ruth Ridenour.

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"This was the year," says Ridenour, who has wanted to do the show for a long time. She has a good cast and has "squirrelled a little money away" for the production, which has a budget of more than $13,000. Nearly $3,000 is the cost of flying the student actors.

The show includes other high-tech, special effects: There's a fiber-optic backdrop that creates the set's starry, starry night; and the flickering fairy Tinker Bell is a laser spotlight.

The revolving set - showing the Darling family nursery on one side and a pirate ship on the other - had to be designed to accommodate the flying equipment and soaring student actors. Arnold Hammann, father of Lauren Hammann, who plays a lost boy, and principal of Washington County Technical High School, supervised a construction crew of parent volunteers.

Ridenour's young cast - many of whom are veterans of Williamsport High School and Potomac Playmakers productions - are excited about "Peter Pan."

"I love it. I love it. I love to fly," says Christina Pillis, the 18-year-old senior, in the title role. "It's great to be a little kid."

But her flight has not been without some turbulence.

During a rehearsal break, with less than two weeks until showtime, Pillis sprang from the stage to grab her car keys to run out and get lunch. She sprained her ankle. Her doctor advised against her performing.

"I'm sorry," she told him. "But I'm gonna do 'Peter Pan'."

In the theater world, saying good luck is bad luck, says Ridenour. Pillis took the traditional send-off, "Break a leg," a little too literally. Her costume covers her air cast.

Alex Sapp, 17, will portray Captain Hook. "This role is so fun. It's my first villain," he says. Sapp, a senior, decribes Hook as a "more round" character than others he's played. Hook hits and yells, but he also sings and dances, Sapp says.

Ben Buchman, 17, plays a pirate. "I try to be mean," he says. "That's hard for me."

"I love the flying. I love the gymnastics," says senior Mauree Smith, 18, who portrays the Indian princess Tiger Lily.

Fifteen-year-old sophomore Caitlin Flagg plays Nibs, a lost boy and is enjoying being in the show.

"I like how it relates to little kids," she says. "It's a fun show."

"Peter Pan," the musical, is based on Scottish author James Barrie's 1904 play of the same title about the boy who wouldn't grow up. Mary Martin played the role on Broadway and television. Sandy Duncan recreated the role, and Olympic gymnast Cathy Rigby performed it in the early 1990s.

The appeal of the nearly 100-year-old story is lasting, touching even the student-actors who long ago left their children's stories behind. Sara Drury, who plays both Liza, the maid, and Jane, Wendy's daughter, loves the play.

"It's almost like being in a dream," she says.

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