REVIEW: Cincinnati Takes Flight with ‘Peter Pan’

When Peter Pan (Almeida) makes his entrance, he quite literally flies onto the stage in a feat that only be described as ‘theater magic.’

by Ariel Mary Ann

Fly to the national tour of Peter Pan at the Aronoff Center for the Arts! The beloved book, written by J. M. Barrie in 1904, has entertained children for years at bedtime and in various stage adaptations. In 1954, it was adapted into a Broadway musical starring Mary Martin.  This version is thrilling and will have audiences soaring by the end. 

The Reimagined Plot

The tour reimagines Peter Pan in the context of today. The plot follows Wendy (Hawa Kamara), John (William Foon), and Michael (Reed Epley) as they travel away to Neverland after meeting Peter Pan (Nolan Almeida). 

Before the show starts, we are met with the show’s overture. This soaring score transports us straight into the bedroom of the Darling children. In the opening scene, Wendy and her siblings play around the room as she attempts to record a video. This moment shows a more modernized version of Peter Pan that many know and love. 

Peter Pan is thrilling and will have audiences flying by the end.

‘Peter’ is Theatre Magic

When Peter (Almeida) makes his entrance, he quite literally flies onto the stage in a feat that is ‘theater magic.’ As he searches for his shadow with Wendy (Hawa Kamara), he does so in such a playful manner that you can’t help but smile. During his first two numbers, “I Gotta Crow” and “Neverland”, Almeida really shows off his range in both dancing and singing. 

Why This Classic Needed Reimagining

While Peter Pan is a classic in the realm of musical theatre, its depiction of indigenous people has brought to light the colonialism within the show.

As someone familiar with the racist undertones of J.M. Barrie’s work, I found myself curious about the approach to Tiger Lilly as a character. In this iteration, Tiger Lilly has her own agency and autonomy. Beyond this, the character is played by a woman of indigenous background, Raye Zaragoza. While these changes don’t erase the harmful (and racist) stereotypes of the original work, they do platform indigenous culture in a way that feels humanizing rather than an offensive caricature. Nice work.

Peter Pan features an updated book by Larissa Fasthorse, lyrics by Carolyn Leigh, Betty Comden, Adolph and Amada Green, with music by Morris Charlap and Jule Styne. Direction is by Lonny Price with choreography by Lorin Latarro and Paul Rubin. 

Cast of Peter Pan
Cast of Peter Pan Tour, Broadway in Cincinnati.

Bottom Line

This modern take on Peter Pan is a great way to introduce your little ones to the world of musical theatre. Along with the updates in the show’s book, the show features a racially diverse cast which feels needed more than ever in this current political climate. 

Tickets to ‘Peter Pan’

Peter Pan runs from March 12th to the 24th and is great for the whole family. Purchase your tickets here

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