It’s not often that the audience of the Cape Fear Regional Theatre is full of children, in fact, it’s rare. So, I was happy to see the excited children lining up with their parents for the preview of Peter Pan at the CFRT. I was also a little worried, because while their excitement was contagious, I was worried whether or not they would be able to contain themselves during the show to actually allow the remainder of the audience to enjoy the show. I had nothing to worry about. From the opening music to the closing lines, the children were enchanted by the magic of the show — so were the adults.
Before I go any further in this review, I must come clean and admit that I have a very close tie to this show. The Littlest Burton is one of the Lost Boys. You might be saying to yourself, “Oh, conﬂ ict of interest!” But if you go see the show, you will know I’m speaking nothing but the truth.
The musical brings some great talent to the CFRT stage. Led by Megan Ellis, who brings to life Peter Pan, the cast sang and danced its way into the audience’s heart.
Ellis, a Missouri native, brings an innocence and vitality to the role of Peter Pan. She has a lively spirit and connects well with the cast. Her voice is strong, although on the night I viewed the show her microphone was not working well, and Ellis’ voice got lost when she was at the back of the stage.
Pan’s arch enemy Captain Hook was brought to life by Dirk Lumbard. I was really looking forward to seeing how Lumbard would bring Hook to life. I think he played it to perfection. He embraced the foppish nature of Hook, as seen in the many portrayals over the year. While he made Hook unlikeable, he didn’t take it too far. The audience could still laugh at him. Like Ellis, Lumbard also encountered some microphone problems toward the end of the show. In the last couple of numbers, his microphone was mufﬂ ed due to static.
Lumbard is a consummate showman, and he led his cast of rowdy Pirates in song and dance numbers that were spot on. The Pirates as a whole were hysterical. Their bumbling, fumbling, fawning personna kept the audience in stitches.
Of particular note was Robbie Gay, an Alabama native, who played Hook’s ﬁ rst mate Smee. Gay brought a lot of humor to the show and was a perfect foil to Lumbard’s Hook
.Andrea Mislan, who was last on the CFRT stage in White Christmas, played Tiger Lilly and did the choreography for the show. Mislan spent hours working with the cast to ensure the dance numbers are ﬁ rst class. Her hard work paid off. There were three distinct groups Mislan worked with: the Pirates, the Lost Boys and the Indians. Most of the Pirates and the Indians have had some form of formal dance training. That wasn’t the case with the Lost Boys, but she quickly whipped them into shape
.In my opinion, the showstopper was the “Ugh-A-Wug” sequence performed by Tiger Lilly and her band of Indians and Peter Pan and his Lost Boys. The initial number was something of a dance-off between the Indians and the Lost Boys, with the ﬁ nale being a spectacular drum rhythm performed by the Indians, Tiger Lilly and Peter Pan. It was spectacular.
Mary Mattison Vallery gets kudos for her portrayal of Wendy. Vallery has literally grown up on the CFRT and other local stages. A freshman at Terry Sanford, Vallery has performed in more than 25 plays and musicals to date. She has a great voice and brought a sense of wonder to the stage.
The Lost Boys were composed of two casts of 14. The boys, some of whom have been in other CFRT productions, also deserve kudos. They did a great job and helped create the magic of the show.
While there were some minor technical problems with the performance I viewed, it was still one of the best shows of the season. The audience agreed with me, as I heard nothing but rave reviews from audience members as they exited the building.
Peter Pan brings magic to the CFRT stage — catch it.