Peter Pan may not want to go to school, but the fifth-graders at Voorheesville Elementary School are eager to get there each day to practice their lines for their upcoming show, “Peter Pan Jr.”
• What: “Peter Pan Jr.”
• When: May 9 and 10 at 7:15 p.m. and May 11 at 2 p.m.
• Where: Voorheesville Middle School
• How much: $3-$7
• Info: 765-2382
Rehearsals are wrapping up for Friday night’s show at the Lydia C. Tobler Performing Arts Center. Although the students have been rehearsing since January, it wasn’t until just about two weeks ago that they had the chance to experience the bright lights and large professional stage of the performing arts center.
Lisa Farrell, co-advisor for the production, said despite the fact that the students just recently began rehearsing on the large stage, the cast and crew of 72 fifth-graders are doing very well adjusting to their new surroundings.
Nate Plummer, who plays Captain Hook, said the stage certainly beats the small conference room that the students had been practicing in for the last four months.
“I think it’s really cool … that feeling of being on stage,” he said.
Until about three years ago, the elementary school’s drama club productions were held in the school gym.
“The lighting and sound was bad … it was dark and hot,” Farrell said, adding that the stage at the performing arts center enables the crew to make the sets bigger, gives the dancers more room to spread out for dance numbers and makes the students feel more professional.
“They get to wear body microphones,” she said. “We are blessed to have such a beautiful facility with professional lighting.”
The professional 790-seat theater doesn’t seem to intimidate the fifth-graders much.
Krista Rivers, who plays Tinkerbell, said she may be a little nervous at first, but she is sure her nerves will wear off quickly when she begins to tell the story of Peter Pan. Rivers’ role enables her to interact with the audience more than any other character in the play.
“I love being able to interact with all the people,” she said. “I get to talk to them directly … and I get to throw pixie dust at the end.”
Farrell said when she and fellow advisor Michele Snyder decided on “Peter Pan Jr.” for this year’s show, the biggest question was how they would make the students appear to fly.
“So far it’s coming together,” she said. “No one is being thrown about on ropes, but people will use imagination enough to see them flying through air.”
Farrell said they incorporated a tiered stage on the set to achieve the appearance of flying.
“We secured stage boxes at different heights, and we have great lighting effects with stars,” she said. “We are having some of the fairies come out holding stars. We are still roughing out the details, but I think it’s coming off pretty well.”
Brendan Mahoney, who plays Mr. Smee, Captain Hook’s assistant, believes the stage boxes work well.
“We’ve been practicing on it. It’s pretty big. We have a 4-foot-high platform that I am on in every scene, and there is a 6-foot high cloud … the fairies and Peter Pan fly down from that. You can’t see their legs because it looks like clouds,” Mahoney said.
The play will follow the traditional story of Peter Pan — the mischievous boy who doesn’t want to grow up and spends time in Neverland as the leader of The Lost Boys while interacting with fairies and pirates along the way. “Peter Pan Jr.” is a slightly different version incorporating adaptations for a younger cast.
“It’s the traditional story, but not everything is included. Peter Pan doesn’t sing ‘I’ve Gotta Crow,’ and it’s shorter.”
Farrell said all but about 10 students in the fifth grade class are participating in this year’s show.
“We have almost every fifth-grader involved in some way, and this year we have many middle school and high school students who come and help us,” she said.
Farrell said she believes allowing students at the elementary level the opportunity to participate in theater benefits them by pushing them out of their comfort zone.
“It gives them more confidence … helps them with public speaking. Also, time management — they have to learn their lines, the music, plan between their practices and other commitments like homework,” she said.
Farrell added that, for some of the students, it will be the one and only time they will have the opportunity to be involved in a production.
“For others, we hope it fosters an interest in the theater,” she said.
See Voorheesville Elementary Drama Club’s production of “Peter Pan Jr.” at the Lydia C. Tobler Performing Arts Center at the Voorheesville Middle School May 9-11. Tickets are available at the door for the three performances on May 9 and 10 at 7:15 p.m. and May 11 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $3 for students.