A fresh tale of magic and possibility is alighting on the MacPherson Theatre’s stage, and although the story is a classic, the look is entirely new.
It’s Kaleidoscope Theatre’s production of Pan, the retelling of J.M. Barrie’s timeless story of Peter Pan, the boy who refuses to leave childhood behind. But while the story has been updated, it’s lost none of the fantastical nature of the original tale.
“Like Neverland, the story is timeless and will continue to survive with the message that anything is possible. It’s childhood, and that’s a constant,” said director Roderick Glanville. “But we’re not stepping back into 1911 England. Our story is set in current time.”
In Glanville’s Pan, the English nursery has become a condo, and the Indian tribe has become a group of tigers from India who at one point perform a Bollywood dance sequence. The pirates are sea dogs, and Hook is the meanest dog of them all. And yes, even as a sea-going canine, he still has a very large hook.
“And we’re not flying anyone around on cables,” said Glanville. “We’re flying them with cinema.”
That cinematic component of the production is integral to the creation of the magical theme, as is the overall set design, said Miles Lowry, the show’s production designer. “We’ve created a wilderness of lost childhood, so the set revolves around those discarded elements. And the multimedia aspects allow us to create an almost cinematic experience in conjunction with the powerful theatre on stage.”
He said that the sets and costumes are entirely fresh, except for Peter. “In the books, Peter is dressed in autumn leaves and cobwebs. That’s how he has to stay. That’s the point. Everything else moves on, but Peter remains a constant.”
Andrew Lynch plays the title role of Peter Pan and is joined by Tich Wilson as Wendy.
“I didn’t realize that these two knew one another when I cast them, but they attended UBC’s theatre school together and were roommates for five years,” said Glanville. “So they have this natural, powerful chemistry.”
Lynch and Wilson are joined by stage veteran Chris Mackie as Captain Hook and acclaimed dance-artist Jung-Ah Chung as Tiger Lily.
Thanks to the work of Alexander Brendan Ferguson, the play’s sound designer and composer, the production is integrated with a musical score that reflects the enchantment, joy, and excitement coupled with elements of bittersweet sadness that lie at the heart of the story. “The music tends to be its own character and is tied to the magic and beauty of dreams and hopes … to the lack of real word problems. It’s a great tool to move the audience.”
According to Glanville, the fresh approach has invigorated the timeless story. “We looked at it and said, ‘if its been done before, let’s not do it again, let’s find a different way to tell this story.’”
He feels that Kaleidoscope has achieved that goal in a heartwarming, thoughtful and entertaining retelling of the magical power of childhood and those things that are lost as we mature. “J.M.Barrie wrote, ‘The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it,’” said Glanville. “We want to help people to hold on to belief for a little while longer.”
The play runs from Nov. 24 to Dec. 1. More information on Pan and other Kaleidoscope Theatre productions can be found at kaleidoscope.bc.ca.