Friday, July 18, 2008

WRAL Anchor Valonda Calloway Learns to Fly!

On Tuesday, July 15th, WRAL Anchor Valonda Calloway came to the theatre to interview Gail Bianchi, who is starring as Peter Pan in the production. She met with Alex Thompson from ZFX, Inc. and several members of our production crew and got some tips on how to fly. They harnessed her up, did a few test flights and then she got to fly through the window just like Gail does in the show!

Click on the links below to watch Gail and Valonda fly!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Q&A with Peter Pan Director Stephen Terrell

Robert McDowell of Classical Voice of NC asked Peter Pan director, Stephen Terrell, a series of questions on his experience with the show. Read on to see his take on the production...

1. When did you first see or read or hear about this musical? Have you ever worked on a previous production of this musical? If so, when and where?
I was first introduced to it when I saw the television production in the early 60s. I loved it then, even though I never believed Mary Martin as a boy. I kept thinking, “Why is that old lady playing Peter Pan?” Through a strange set of circumstances I actually played Peter in a production of the musical in Seattle in ‘93. I was also the choreographer of the production and I had a fantastic time.

2. What do you like BEST about this musical? What made you WANT to direct it?
It really speaks to me as a person in the theatre. I think many actors and artists refuse to grow up in their own ways in order to hang onto the innocence and the sense of discovery that children have. So in some ways there’s a lot of Peter in me. That’s what still draws me to the play over and over again. It never fails to work it’s magic on me and I love helping others experience that, especially children.

3. Briefly summarize the plot of this musical in your own words.
Peter Pan opens in the nursery of the Darling residence as Mr. and Mrs. Darling prepare to go out for the evening. They leave their children Wendy, Michael and John with their dog and nurse maid, Nana. Once the children fall asleep a fairy, Tinkerbell, and Peter Pan fly into the window hoping to retrieve his shadow he had lost the week before in the nursery. The show’s adventures take off when Peter teaches Wendy and her brothers how to fly and invites them to come with him to Never-Never-Land. Their magical journey to Neverland takes them to visit the Lost Boys, pirates and one giant Hook!

4. What major challenges does staging this musical present to you as a director -- and to your cast and creative team?
The most obvious challenge, of course, is the flying. But I really don’t have to worry about it so much because ZFX , the company that handles the flying, has all of it planned before they arrive. They work out all the choreography, so all I have to do is help the actors with how to move once they’re in the air. There’s also the challenge of making the relationship between Peter and Wendy believable, especially since Peter is being played, as usual, by a female. If the audience doesn’t believe that Peter and Wendy are really connecting the play doesn’t work.

5. Please describe the set:
It’s the set from the Cathy Rigby production. Huge in scale and perfect for the telling the story.

6. Please describe the lighting:
Wonderful and evocative, with a special appearance by Tinkerbell, the laser!

7. Please describe the costumes:
Right out of a storybook. Larger than life and full of character details.

8. Is there anything else about this musical -- or your production -- that it is important for the audience to know ahead of time? If so, what?
If they’ve never seen it before, they’re in for a great adventure. If they’ve seen it before, it’s just as good as you remember it. Come see it!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Peter Pan Reviews

Peter Pan opened this past weekend to glowing reviews! The News & Observer and Robert McDowell of the Classical Voice of North Carolina came to review the show on opening night and both enjoyed the show!

News & Observer review:
They also have footage of the flying rehearsal that took place on Tuesday, July 8th. Follow the link to check it out!

Classical Voice of NC review by Robert McDowell:

Independent Weekly Review:

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Peter Pan Rehearsal Process

The Peter Pan cast is now in town! Rehearsals started this past weekend and everyone is excited to get to Neverland!

The rehearsal process for any NCT show is pretty amazing, and Peter Pan is no exception. The out of town actors and local actors met yesterday (some for the first time) and the rehearsal process is now under way. For the next week, they will be in rehearsals from 2 pm to 10:30 pm at the NCT Studios in North Raleigh where they are working very hard to memorize lines, learn choreography, ensure they are hitting all the right notes and are working together to know where they are supposed to be at any point in time on the stage. None of the above are easy tasks individually, and to have to remember to do all of that and more (in such a short amount of time) is very impressive!

After the cast spends a week at the studios, they will move to Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. Tuesday, July 8th is designated for the flying rehearsal. ZFX, Inc. is one of the top flying companies in the world and is in charge of teaching Gail Bianchi (Peter Pan), Sarah Evelyn Langston (Wendy Darling), Mason Park (John Darling), Zachary Hylan (Michael Darling) and KK Fritsch (Jane Darling) how to fly. The rehearsal period will be about five hours and there they will learn how to fly with the help of a harness, a trained professional and of course, some fairy dust!

Following the flying rehearsal, the cast will come in on Wednesday, July 9th for a very long day of tech rehearsal. This is the first full day that the company is in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium and this rehearsal lasts from 12 pm to 12 am. This particular day the actors rehearse with full lights, sound, props and the orchestra for the first time and it makes for a long day because the respective designers are busy trying to get everything just perfect for the run of the show.

Dress rehearsal is the next step in the process and this is on Thursday, July 10th at 8 pm. This is the first time that the cast is in costume and wigs, and they perform in front of a small audience. There are usually some stopping points and we will cross our fingers that everything will go well for the first full run through! If not, that is what rehearsals are for, and is the perfect opportunity to fix anything before the show opens to the general public. Thursday is also a long day because they are in the theatre from 12 pm to 12 am.

Friday is a short rehearsal day - from 12 pm to 5 pm - and then they perform for a packed house for Student Preview Night, an education program NCT developed to give students and educators an opportunity to see a Broadway production at a discounted rate ($10 tickets!!).

So, to recap, the actors rehearse for only 7 days before they move into Raleigh Memorial Auditorium where they only have 3 full days of rehearsal before Student Preview Night. Of course, they could not do all that they do without the help of the production staff and crew who are working behind the scenes to make sure every note is heard, every light cue is met, all the props make it to their designated spot, every wig makes it on the actors’ heads and that they go on stage in their appropriate costume!

Not a small thing to accomplish in such a short amount of time! Bravo!