Peter Pan 360

This is a spectacular production in every aspect. It’s a memorable night out for the adults, and a truly unforgettable experience for the kids. And in the end, that’s what “Peter Pan” is about, anyway: being a kid.
Peter Pan, of course, isn’t a child, but he has refused to grow up. He says it’s the idea of taking on responsibility, of being stuck in an office all day, that makes him not want to claim his adulthood. But of course he has taken on responsibility already—he’s the leader of the Lost Boys. And he’s looking for someone to be a Mother to them all. What would a Mother do, exactly? Well…..start with telling stories at bedtime. This Peter Pan is brash, confident, athletic, and blissfully oblivious to subtle relational dynamics, like Tinkerbell being jealous of Wendy. And Tinkerbell throws such a great fits----wailing, foot-stomping, writhing on the floor----just like a spoiled two-year-old. But somehow her insane loyalty is appealing, and might be important later.
The Lost Boys are impressively athletic, as are the Pirates, and even Tiger Lily. This must be a collection of gymnasts and acrobats, and they all add a tremendous amount of energy and boisterous enthusiasm to the stage.
The 360 effects are nothing short of wondrous. The flying sequences are so realistic they’re literally dizzying, scooting behind the clouds, diving under bridges, soaring over the Thames from London to Never Never Land, where the pirate ship immediately fires at them. We don’t even mind the visible harnesses, because the very act of flying has captured our imaginations.
Yes, there’s danger in Never Never Land. But Captain Hook, while deliciously menacing, is also afraid of the crocodile, a great, big moving prop that roars. The sword fights between the Lost Boys and the Pirates are filled with the frenetic activity of a melee, but of course rarely is anyone really hurt. And even walking the plank is mostly just a threat. The “manhole covers” on the stage are used resourcefully for quick hiding places, or smooth scene transitions.
But as fun as it is to stay in Never Never Land, where childhood never ends, soon Wendy, John, and Michael miss home, and realize that their parents miss them, too. And when they tell Peter Pan that it’s time for them to go back, he’s not happy. He wants them to stay. But there will be others. There’s always room for more children in Never Never Land. And it’s always a great place to revisit with your inner child, no matter how old you are.
Cannon blasts, sword fights, soaring through the sky, flying fairies, and bedtime stories---a classic, timeless kid’s formula that beckons to the imaginations of everyone. It’s well worth the trip.

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen is the Suppy Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Mabank, Texas