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Sooner Theatre wants audiences to grab fairy dust as 'Peter Pan' flies into Norman



0" />Ambitious productions, great performances, fantastic live music and an unmistakable sense of fun have been constants in recent Sooner Theatre shows, and "Peter Pan" is no exception. Based on the play by James M. Barrie that later was adapted into a Broadway musical, Sooner's production features great songs and choreography, colorful sets and costumes, and a terrific cast of adults and children who will make you believe in the magic of Never Never Land.

The always great Don Taylor creates a Capt. Hook that, while embodying some of the best qualities of the better-known incarnations of the character, definitely has his own very entertaining take on Pan's nemesis. Like Taylor's Hook, Aubrey Adams' Peter Pan is a pitch-perfect performance, with everything you'd want the character to be and more. Also excellent and sporting a great English accent is CheyAnne Strickler as Wendy Darling.

Definitely falling into the ambitious category are the gracefully executed flying scenes, created with a temporary rig provided by Flying by Foy, a Nevada-based company that has worked on three Broadway productions of "Peter Pan." The choreography and staging are tight during the dance numbers. The fight scenes varied a bit more, with the final battle aboard The Jolly Roger feeling a little messy in particular.

Sets are one area where Sooner sometimes lags, but both the Darling bedroom and the forest backdrop work really well, evoking a storybook sensibility. Just try not to pay too much attention to the unfortunately shaped tree trunks hanging about the woods. The Jolly Roger felt a little underdone, but given the lively performances, it was never really a problem.

The Sooner is one of just a handful of metro-area community theaters that has an orchestra pit, and the production makes excellent use of it by bringing in talented musicians, infusing the whole show with a dynamic sensibility that just can't be achieved by playing prerecorded music. The vocal performances from the cast are also pretty great across the board, with Adams standing out for some particularly impressive vocal work during "Oh, My Mysterious Lady."

Audiences should be warned that in lieu of simply clapping to resurrect the ailing Tinker Bell in the second act, the Sooner is selling flashing fiber-optic wands for the kids in the audience to utilize at the crucial moment. Despite being asked not to use them until the appropriate scene, wands were activated randomly throughout the performance, resulting in many inconvenient distractions.

Those aside, Sooner's "Peter Pan" is another first-rate show that audiences of all ages will enjoy.

Peter Pan stages at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday through Dec. 13 at Sooner Theatre, 101 E. Main in Norman.

"?Eric Webb


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