Times are tough, Tinkerbell.
Pop psychologists have appropriated the name Peter Pan to describe a syndrome of men who don't grow up.
Then earlier this year, some Smee-worthy vandals ransacked the house in Dumfries, Scotland, where author J. M. Barrie drew inspiration for the story.
And Michael Jackson hijacked and truncated the name Never Never Land when he called his creepy private zoo and ranch Neverland.
So you might have reason to suspect that the play "Peter Pan" is as frayed as the pants worn by the Lost Boys.
But you'd be wrong.
While it has its gooey moments, the Playhouse on the Square production moves along smartly, providing splendid acting from seasoned performers, a worthy set and those engagingly annoying tunes that stay in the brain well after final curtain.
Angela Groeschen plays Wendy and is tops. Again. Just to think that mere weeks ago she was essaying the part of a fully demented Lady Macbeth on the same stage. Two utterly disparate roles, both of which she inhabited to perfection. Keep watching her.
Captain Hook gives Kyle Barnette the undisputed title of this season's holiday ham. You're unlikely to find anyone on any stage having a better time mincing, sneering, steaming, prancing, bellowing and wheedling. His costume is the flamboyant offspring of the closets of Louis XIV and Charles II, with eye shadow inspired by Rocky Horror's subculture.
The role of Peter Pan is shared by Courtney Oliver and Lindsey Roberts. Oliver was in the show we saw and she winningly conveyed the brashness and swagger of that callow kid who won't commit to growing up. Oliver also handled the choreography, which was witty and sharp.
"Peter Pan" is a field day for the costumer, who not only gets to dandy up the Captain, but also has to come up with threads for Hook's scurvy pirates, Indians, the Lost Boys and the Victorian Darling family. In the Playhouse production, the dog/nurse Nana and the notorious ticking crocodile are cleverly outfitted and performed, never failing to delight the youngsters.
OK, OK, and the adults, too.
The Commercial Appeal, November 14, 2003
Reviews aren't often reviewed except by disgruntled performers and their mothers. We're used to that. But this review was selected by Dr. Campbell B. Titchener for inclusion in the third edition of his textbook "Reviewing the Arts" published in 2005. Dr. Titchener is Professor Emeritus of Communication at the University of Houston. I was aware he wanted to put it in his text, but for all I knew it could have been as an example of how never, ever to make a foray into criticism. Here's his review of my review:
"This might be a rare instance where the costumer gets more notice than many of the actors. But it is appropriate, and the writer makes the acting and the costuming the point of emphasis.
"Two other aspects of this review are worth re-visiting. It is risky to try an alliterative lead, because it too often calls attention to the attempt, not the result.
"But this is a good one. And notice how effective the use of modifiers is in paragraph 9. Usually three will do, but here Sparks has tossed in six, with excellent effect."