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See PETER PAN in a magical new way!

I have read JM Barrie’s book about the boy who never grows up to my sons and we’ve seen this classic story retold many times on stage and screen but we have never seen it performed like the threesixty° theater’s magical version of PETER PAN. They have readapted the classic into a spectacular stage production by creating the world’s first 360-degree CGI theater set featuring fine actors, amazing puppets, and dazzling flying sequences.

Combining technology with live acting, the production is set on a circular stage in the middle of a tent on City Hall Plaza in Boston surrounded by a circular screen that provides the backdrop to every scene. The scenery flows behind the actors creating a unique theatrical experience, fun for the whole family.

The acting is excellent and the chemistry between the characters made the story delightful. I especially loved Emily Yetter’s performance as Tinker Bell. Her modern twist on the hot-tempered jealous fairy along with unbelievable flying acrobatics was mesmerizing. Although some may find her tone a bit harsh she is more like JM Barrie’s original Tinker Bell than some of the watered down nicer versions of Tink. The pirates, led by the evil yet fearful Captain Hook, were witty yet menacing. Josh Swales is equally convincing as the dastardly Hook and the anxious Mr. Darling. And the puppet created to be the crocodile was splendid.

Tinker Bell and Peter Pan fly to Neverland in the threesixty° stage production of PETER PAN. (L-R: Chuck Bradley, Emily Yetter) Photo Credit: Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures Inc.

This is the first production of PETER PAN I have seen where the audience gets to experience the magic the Darling kids must feel the first time they learn to fly. As Wendy, John, Michael, Peter Pan and Tinker Bell fly over 400 square miles of virtual London we fly alongside them in a spectacular journey passing familiar London landmarks dodging tall buildings until we are all above the clouds.

The final battle between the pirates and the lost boys was choreographed beautifully creating a dramatic swashbuckling dance culminating in the classic showdown between between Captain Hook and Peter Pan. The pace changes to a slow motion duel between the two rivals on the plank. Well-timed and witty, the battle ends with the return of the slithering crocodile.

Captain Hook and Peter Pan in the threesixty° stage production of PETER PAN.(L-R: Josh Swales, Chuck Bradley). Photo Credit: Andrew Brilliant/Brilliant Pictures Inc.

Threesixty° entertainment, a theatrical production based in London launched with PETER PAN in Kensington garden in the summer of 2009 the very place the Llewellyn Davies children inspired Barrie to create PETER PAN over 100 years ago. Now in Boston through December 31, 2011, PETER PAN has been touring the United States for a year and features members of the original London Production along with American actors.

My boys enjoyed the gallery located outside the seating area, foam board collages of photos, movie posters and a historical timeline of the PETER PAN story and it’s many adaptations over the years. The 20-minute intermission gave us plenty of time to learn some interesting facts. For example Peter Pan was only played by women onstage until 1982. Boris Karloff (the original Frankenstein) played Captain Hook and Elsa Sullivan Lanchester (famous for her role as the bride in the Bride of Frankstein) played Peter Pan in 1936.

As a member of the press we had the opportunity to take a backstage–or should I say understage–tour of the threesixty° theater. Fascinating to see the inner workings of the production and see how complex yet orderly everything is behind the scenes to ensure things run smoothly during the performance. Since the stage is surrounded almost entirely by seats except for one end from where the crocodile and occasionally the characters enter and exit, people appear and reappear from under the stage, down the aisle or fly in from above. Stage props including the beds and the island rotate around in the floor disappearing under the stage when not in use. We also got to glimpse at the numerous cameras and screens used to track the lighting, flying apparatus, CGI film, props and more.

threesixty° stage production of PETER PAN
Now until December 3o, 2011
Duration: Two hours and twenty minutes, including a twenty-minute intermission.
Location: City Hall Plaza, One City Hall, Boston, MA
Tickets: $35 – $105. The theater is intimate and the stage is easily seen from all sides with the exception of the seats in section A and E (You may be looking at the back or sides of the actors occasionally.)
December 21st – December 30th is Peak Pricing: $40, $75 and $125.
Parking: Tickets can be validated for discount parking at Central Parking and Government Center Garage.

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