Students bring high-flying debut to stage
by Jeanette Boos
Jun 21, 2012 | 1412 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jessica Reilly hangs from a fabric during rehearsal for the new, locally-written play “Never Land.”  In the background are instructor Jobi Dan’Sy, left, Rita Messing, and Deserae Boos.
Jessica Reilly hangs from a fabric during rehearsal for the new, locally-written play “Never Land.” In the background are instructor Jobi Dan’Sy, left, Rita Messing, and Deserae Boos.
WILMINGTON- Both young and old will have a chance to feel like kids this weekend at an original performance of “Never Land” at Memorial Hall. The musical, produced and presented by Wings Community Programs, is the product of the combined effort and talent of students from five area schools as well as community members.

Based on the 1911 classic novel “Peter Pan,” by James Barrie, the production adheres closely to the original story. Wings program director Andy Hauty, who co-wrote the script along with Shelley Park, said, “It’s an unusual novel. None of the other plays and movies are really based on the actual book.” Hauty gave examples of scenes where the father is “literally in the dog house,” and when Wendy is a grown-up mother, Peter is “sort of freaked out because she’s grown old.”

Hauty said that writing their own script allowed them to make modifications to fit their needs as well as follow the original story more accurately. He said, “We took most of the text right out of the book. It’s out of copyright, so we could do that. We took most of the dialogue that we wanted to use and then modified it.”

Some of the modifications included adding another sister to the Darling family, and splitting Tinkerbell’s character into two characters, “Tink” and “Bell.”

A major part of the production is the incorporation of fabrics, or aerial silks, throughout the performance. Jobi Dan’Sy, a foreign language teacher at Twin Valley Middle and High schools, has been providing instruction to students in fabric arts since January. She said that part of the reason they chose to perform “Never Land” was to incorporate the use of fabrics. Dan’sy said, “We have a really talented group of kids. I sort of fast-tracked some of them so they could do a more exciting performance.” She added, “But safety always comes first.”

In all, there will be 15 fabric performers plus additional fabric performances from Peter Pan and the four Darling family members. Throughout the musical, the students will perform aerial acrobatics while suspended from the fabric. After they climb up, they wrap the fabric around themselves and then suspend, fall, and spiral their bodies into and out of various positions.

Devin Green, who plays John and has a scene in which he spins dizzily, said, “You just have to look at your hand. If you don’t, it’s really hard.”

Regarding the large number of students performing in “Never Land,” Hauty said that he and other organizers were stunned to discover how many students wanted to participate in the production. He said that around 30 students were anticipated, and it was surprising when the number climbed to 60 students. “It’s an indication of how many people are interested,” he said.

Hauty said, “The idea I’m interested in is to have a performing arts initiative in the valley. People can go to Brattleboro or Greenfield, but it hasn’t really grown here to do that. This would be a centralized location.” Hauty said that the Memorial Hall board of directors is also excited to provide a venue for a performing arts initiative.

Although Hauty and other organizers are responsible for putting together the “Never Land” production, the original idea for a large collaborative arts project started with Windham Southwest Supervisory Union Superintendent Jack Rizzo. Hauty said, “He was interested in having performances throughout the district, and he loves musicals. He was really excited to be having a musical.”

Possibly as a bittersweet ending to Rizzo’s responsibilities as the WSSU superintendent, the musical production is complete after its start nearly one year ago. Rizzo tendered his resignation as superintendent last month, and may, or may not, be available to see the actual performance. Hauty said, “We’re trying to get him to stay until Friday. But if he can’t, he said that he will make the dress rehearsal.”

Show times for “Never Land” are Friday and Saturday at 6:30 pm, and Sunday at 5 pm. Tickets are $5 at the door, and anybody who is over 62 or under 5 (and believes in fairies) gets in free.

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