The auditorium at Saline Middle School was bursting with energy Monday afternoon as the cast and crew of Peter Pan and Wendy gathered for the first run through on stage with scenery, lights, sound and many costumes (not required until the next day). I had the privilege of catching a glimpse of the action and talking to the kids in the show behind the scenes. The play is directed by Kristen Glatz and is put on by the Saline Middle School Drama Club. It is an adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s 1911 novel about a boy who won’t grow up.
Clearly, these young thespians are an enthusiastic lot. One of the best parts of being involved in theater is taking on the persona of someone totally different than you, and developing that character. It is clear that these kids are into their parts and have thought about them too. I struck up conversations with many of the kids in the show to ask about their characters, why they liked playing them, and some of their favorite lines. Here’s what they said:
There were a number of “lost boys” hanging around, so I tried to find out what they liked about being lost boys. Maddie said that she gets to “have fun” and “I don’t have to “memorize lines”. Sammie said the lost boys “don’t need to follow any rules.” Lexi and Olivia play twin lost boys and they enjoyed shopping together to get their twin outfits. Per Lexi, “we’re twins and get to say half the lines together”. Per Olivia, “we’re young and get to do immature things” - some of those things - hitting people with a pillow and sticking out tongues. “Art” (his “alias” and the only male lost boy) said that he likes the part because there isn’t much talking… rather they get “to act it out – it makes it a lot more like drama.” Jeannette likes getting away from the middle school routine and “being young.” Ayla (with twigs coming out of her hair and big rips in her pants) said that she enjoyed making the costume.
Daniel is playing a pirate named “Bill Jukes” in the play. He likes it because he enjoys dressing in costume and gets to be covered with tattoos. He doesn’t know yet how many of the washcloth tattoos it will take to cover his body, but will find out before opening night. One of his favorite parts is that he gets to scream (he’s been practicing) and die at the end. Another pirate, “Smee,” played by McKenzie is like Captain Hook’s right hand man. She says that Smee has always been her mother’s favorite character in Peter Pan. Her favorite line: “What’s a mother?” Julie, her good friend, plays Captain Hook and enjoys “randomly saying lines during school and having people laugh at them if they’re in the play, while those who are not in the play try to figure out what I’m talking about.” Her favorite line: “A codfish!?” Audra is enjoying working on screaming like a little girl.
I met Gabi before rehearsal started. She was hopping up and down constantly as she told me about her part of Michael, the 5-year old boy, and said that her friends think she is perfect for the part. She likes wearing footie pajamas and is small and definitely energetic. Her teddy bear, hugged tightly to her chest, adds to her character. Her “father” in the play, Mr. Darling is being played by Ethan whose enjoys his loud and boisterous character and whose favorite line is, “then let them, let the whole world hear!”
Tinkerbell is played by Cora who says that that acting this part is something “I would never do otherwise – I hope I’m not rude” (in real life). She likes her death scene when she almost dies, and also when she gets mad at the lost boy who almost wakes her up. Lindsay, who plays Tiger Lily and describes her character as “brave” and “rebellious,” enjoys the part because she has friends who are pirates and “we’re supposed to be enemies and I get to roughhouse with them.”
Robin plays Never Bird and gets to roll around in a big nest that she made with her Dad. Her favorite line: “You dunder-headed little Jay – why don’t you just do as I say?” to Peter Pan. I didn’t get to interview Peter Pan or Wendy or many of the other cast members, but could tell that they were all having a good time. To quote Peter Pan, “… I just always want to be a little boy and to have fun.”
I had a delightful time meeting these kids and seeing them so invested in their parts. The show will go up on Thursday and Friday nights, April 19 & 20, at the Saline Middle School at 7:00 for the general public. Tickets are $5.00 at the door.