Sunday, June 5, 2011

'Peter Pan' takes Tri-PAC to new heights

By Cheryl Thornburg

  "Close your eyes and imagine" -- a theater production that takes you back to the wondrous world of childhood  -- and you've got Tri-PAC's current production "Peter Pan, A Musical Adventure."  It's a dream of a show peopled with Sir James Barrie’s unforgettable characters -- Peter Pan, Wendy and of course, Captain Hook. The production is the U.S. premiere of the musical created by the award-winning team of Drewe & Stiles whose other credits include Broadway’s "Mary Poppins" and "Honk!"
  Director Deborah Stimson Snow has put together an incredible world-class cast, even though most of them are local actors.
  PJ Schweizer is delightfully mischievous in the title role and seems to have been born to soar above the audience and fulfill everyone's concept of the boy who didn't want to grow up.  His swagger and the gleam in his eye as he sings 'The Cleverness of Me,"  is  quintessential Peter Pan.
  Joe Cieresi, plays dual roles and is charming as Mr. Darling, but absolutely shines as the dastardly Captain Hook. Cieresi brings a deep, dark quality to his vocals that adds dimension as he sings "I Will Kill Peter Pan, " and the memorable "A Pirate With a Conscience,"  sung with Ben Fried, as his ever-faithful sidekick, Smee.
  Most impressive is Madison Aicher, an 8th-grader from Owen J. Roberts Middle School.  As she sings the phrase "close your eyes" from "Just Beyond the Stars"  to the Lost Boys, her clear soprano shows a maturity way beyond her years. This talented young lady has a very bright future.
  Other performances of note are Donna Dougherty as the narrator and Rebecca Shoemaker as Mrs. Darling, both of whom were last seen in "Nunsense;" and AJ Giruzzi and Connor Kirk as Wendy's brothers, John and Michael.
  My special "Bravest Pirate Award" goes to Matt Kiesling, who frequently played the victim as his cohorts demonstrated how they would dispatch someone. His gift for physical comedy adds flair to his interpretation of his character, Skylights.
  The remaining cast includes  Jason Burke, William Bell, Isabella Rota-Talarico, Emma Russek, Sam Pettine, Josiah Swensen, David Helmer, Ben Williams, AJ Sermarini, Charlie Harrison,  Marc Sherfield, Michael Kiesling,  Harrison Stengle, Cletus Stell, Maggie Swahl, Sami Kolb, Taylor Helmers, Patrick Shepherd, Carly Fried, Carrie Thorwarth, Karissa Smith, Sara Helmers, Philip Seader, Adele Morello, Jordan Popky, Lynn Cooper, Madison Devlin, and Al Ulozas.   
  The unseen orchestra, conducted by Barbara Newberry, sets the tone perfectly for every scene.
  The production itself is amazing, filled with complex flying apparatus, fight choreography,  dozens of costumes, lighting and special effects.  It took countless volunteers to pull off this ambitious project, and their hard work paid off with a memorable night at the theater.

  If you're ready to escape your hum-drum workaday world, head to downtown Pottstown, for a trip to Neverland.  The show runs Thursdays through Sundays until June 19 at at the Tri-County Performing Arts Center, 245 E. High St.
  Ticket prices for Thursday performances are $13 for children 12 and under, $17 for students and seniors (65+), and $19 for adults.  Ticket prices for Friday, Saturday and Sunday shows are $15 for children 12 and under, $21 for students and seniors, and $23 for adults.  Groups of 10 or more receive $2 off per ticket when purchased in a single transaction.
  Tickets are on sale now at or by calling the box office at 610-970-1199.

How you can help

Bringing this spectacular production to Pottstown with its technical equipment, is a costly venture. To help offset the cost,  Tri-County Performing Arts Center, a non-profit 501(c)(3) performing arts organization located at 245 E. High Street, Pottstown, introduced  the  ‘Fly to Never Land’ Challenge. The financial goal for this initiative is $20,000. Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, every dollar donated will be matched 100%, up to a total of $5,000.
There are many reward options to consider, including autographed show posters, personal phone calls from characters of the show, post-show tour of the backstage and flying effects, tickets to the show, the option to present the on-stage curtain speech, a photo session with show characters on set, a private pre-show wine and cheese reception, and more! Plus every donation to the ‘Fly to Never Land’ Challenge will automatically be entered to win a personal appearance by Peter Pan at a party for a child age 10 and under.

Details about the ‘Fly to Never Land’ Challenge are available online at Visitors can watch a special video message about the challenge, learn why your support is important, review the various rewards available, and view the vibrant show poster, as well as make a donation and purchase tickets to performances of "Peter Pan.'

 Village Productions (the Tri-County Performing Arts Center) is a dynamic non-profit performing arts organization founded in 2001 to make the arts highly accessible to all in the community. Established and led by dedicated team of performing artists, arts educators, business leaders, and area residents, Village Productions seeks to strengthen community, inspire creative exploration, educate, and entertain, through the presentation of quality performing arts events and educational opportunities geared toward a diverse audience. More information is available at


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