When playwright J.M. Barrie wrote the story of The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, he likely was idealizing childhood for … yes, children. But it may not have occurred to him that “grown ups” would take a special liking to his antagonist, the boisterous evildoer Captain Hook.
In every version of the magical tale I’ve seen, it’s all about the Hook. Egyptian Theatre Company’s production of Peter Pan is certainly no exception. As I occasionally scanned the sold out performance, the many well-behaved children were sitting on the edge of their seats, jaws dropped, completely engrossed right from the opening scene. The introduction of Captain Hook in Act II ignites more excitement among the adult crowd. From there on, scattered joyous laughter echoes.
Mark Gollaher, in his first Egyptian production, reigns on stage as an animated and flamboyant Hook. Though similar to Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow character, Gollaher’s sensational performance is more reminiscent of a Carol Burnett skit – more facial twitches than a taser victim.
Director Adrianne Moore (also an ETC newcomer) likens the original story well including Barrie’s original ending that is rarely used in stage productions. In addition, Moore successfully pulls entertaining performances from the mostly young cast of 23 members.
Notably, Allison Robbins’ (an effigy of the brilliant Keri Russell) reserved portrayal of young Wendy makes the idea of her as the newfound “Mother” of the Lost Boys more believable. Molly Jackson (Peter Pan) is the spitting image of Barrie’s main character and has a strong stage voice, but is shy on youthful playfulness we come to expect from Peter.
The musical numbers don’t miss a beat in entertainment value. Most memorably are Hook and the Pirates’ tango, the touching jungle gym rendition of “I Won’t Grow Up” and the well-choreographed Pow-Wow Polka.
On a small stage such as that in the historic Egyptian theater, a dazzling set of Neverland would be less than easy to accomplish. However, the drab simplicity of the island set is disappointing, as if completely disregarded. On the other hand, Nancy Mills’ costume designs are fun and vibrant: The Lost Boys in colorful mismatched socks and the goofy expression on Nana, the “nanny” watchdog, and then there’s Hook in a flashy black, red and gold frock and sporting Cher’s “Turn Back Time” hairdo. I just hope through the remaining run of the show, there’ll be fewer unexpected button and embellishment launches.
ETC’s long reputation as a small company with big productions is inspiring and deserves respect because big and small don’t always fit comfortably. And even though occasionally you can feel the strain between the big and small in some ETC productions, you rarely feel uncomfortable. Like with Peter Pan, you’ll be glad you made the journey.
Peter Pan runs Nov. 23 through Dec. 29 at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main Street, Park City. Tickets $17-36, call 435-649-9371 or visit egyptiantheatrecompany.org.