Illustration by Steve Rawlings — Design by Feast Creative
“To live would be an awfully great adventure,” Peter Pan states at the end of Act 2. That statement perfectly sums up the new 360 degree production of Peter Pan – it’s an awfully great big adventure, surrounded by unimaginable, incredible effects that almost stole the show.
There are over 12 projections (delivering in 360 degrees), with 10 million pixels and 10,000 square feet of CGI to successfully recreate London and Neverland. The tent, which stands 100 ft. high was shipped via boat, 6,000 miles from London to San Francisco. It all becomes a little mind-boggling just thinking about the logistics of this production. It’s also quite incredible that the creative team was able to create a cohesive story, that so closely followed the book. There are so many iconic tellings of Peter Pan – the play, musical, Disney cartoon version and even the two extremely successful movie adaptations: Hook and Finding Neverland and yet, this version of Peter Pan tells a very cohesive, touching story that when not focused on the stunning effects gives us a chance to see the true heart of the story.
The direction by Ben Harrison was creative and staged impeccably. I absolutely loved how he used the effects to tell the story (the underwater scene was one of my favorites, though it became a bit too extensive toward the end). It was obvious that the creative team worked together beautifully because everything worked flawlessly together; the sound design, by Gregory Clarke was most impressive. A few of the flying scenes were so long that the pacing of the show changed abruptly, but you soon became so immersed into their magical world that it ultimately didn’t matter. There were several times that the audience just clapped solely for the flying/effects (the alligator being one of the most impressive things about the show).
The first act the main player was the visual effects and the storytelling suffered, but as soon as you got used to the world that literally surrounded you, it became a lot more enjoyable. The second act was very touching and I got involved emotionally with the characters. Tink’s (Itxaso Moreno) heartbreaking death to her miraculous recovering (which I got goosebumps from) to the beautiful reunion of the children with Mrs. Darling (Shannon Warrick) was very emotional. After all, it was Mother’s Day.
The acting was superb. Jonathan Hyde’s portrayal of Mr. Darling/Hook was fantastic. I loved the different layers of his characters and both characters had great depth. What an incredible role to play and Mr. Hyde did a great job making it his own. I also loved the very unique interpretation that Moreno had on Tinkerbell – a little gruffer and spunkier than normal. Her repeated line, “You silly ass” was hysterical. Wendy’s (Abby Ford) performance was touching and she was completely believable as a child and a grown-up. I wasn’t too keen on John (Arthur Wilson) and Michael (David Poynor), but it wasn’t enough to detract from the show.
The score composed by Benjamin Wallfisch (Atonement, V for Vendetta and Pride & Prejudice) was exquisite. I want the soundtrack! The music that Tiger Lily danced to was by far my favorite piece of the night.
Though I didn’t believe in fairies at the beginning, by the end of the show I did and with a full conviction. Peter Pan was a theatrical experience unlike I’ve ever had; it was absolutely breathtaking.
Peter Pan at Ferry Building
Tuesday & Thursday @ 7pm / Friday & Saturday @ 7:3opm / Wednesday & Saturday @ 2pm / Sunday @ 1pm & 5pm
Tickets: $30-$85 – a $20 discount for children 12 and under is available for select performances. Premium tickets are available, for more information go to: http://www.peterpantheshow.com