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!

No comments: