For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday brings an awfully big adventure to Open Book Theatre 3/17-4/16
TRENTON, MI–Since Peter Pan first appeared on stage in London in 1904, we’ve been delighted by his “never grow up” antics. For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday, playing March 17 – April 16 at Open Book Theatre in Trenton, continues to play with this theme, bringing a group of 5 older siblings to Neverland to examine questions about life, death and what it means to grow up.
Oldest sibling Ann played Peter Pan as a child. She starts the play with memories of flying, meeting Mary Martin, and the love and support of her father, George. In present day, George is dying and Ann and her four siblings have gathered in his hospital room. We see the love and the rivalries these brothers and sisters have forged over the decades as they reminisce, joke, bicker, and ask the big questions.
“I feel that the discussions that happen with this family unit about their lives, where they’re going, where they’ve been — these are universal themes that most people can relate to,” says Phil Hughes, who plays the middle sibling, Jim. “The fear of death. The curiosity about what comes after. And the focus that this puts on being with those that we love as much as we can, for as long as we can — these are important reminders for all.”
Eventually the siblings journey to Neverland, embodying the Peter Pan characters with the fun and belief of children… trapped in senior bodies! There’s sword fighting and flying, and, of course, pixie dust.
Open Book Artistic Director Krista Schafer directs the play, and says that the fantastical scene is “fun and touching and circles back to the questions of the script. It reminds us all that questions and answers are often best explored through play and in community.”
Floating window frames make up the abstract set, with colorful lighting and creative use of a rolling table moving the action through a stage, hospital room, kitchen table, and finally Neverland. Linda Rabin Hammell, who plays Ann, says “The abstract set design gives an “everyman” quality to the location, puts focus on the byplay between and among the siblings, and gives an eerie shimmer to the story’s ghost.” Hughes agrees, “As in dreams and memories, our minds fill in the details that are particular and precious to us. In this way, it can help make this piece more personal to those who watch.”
Playwright Sarah Ruhl wrote the play as a gift to her mother, who played Peter Pan as a child, and played Ann in this play as an adult. Ruhl’s plays often blend reality and fantasy, and Schafer says “she does this so beautifully when she uses the story of Peter Pan to look at aging and death. The boy who never grows up never has to face these things.”
Kez Settle, who plays the youngest sibling, Wendy, says ““Life is hard, but it is also be magical and transforming.” She has enjoyed the challenge the play brings, saying it’s been fun to “be an adult playing a kid – reconnecting with the child inside.”
The cast brings together a group of wonderful Metro Detroit actors, all of whom have played at Open Book before. Linda Rabin Hammell, Robert Schorr, Phil Hughes, Sean Paraventi, and Kez Settle are siblings, with Nick Szczerba as their father. Krista Schafer directs, and designed the set and sound as well. The design team includes Cheryl Zemke (Costumes), Harley Miah (Lights), and Nyah Pierson (props). The production is Stage Managed by Samantha Silva.
Open Book Theatre Company is a nonprofit arts organization in Trenton, Michigan that promotes connection through theatrical storytelling. Now in their 9th season, the established theatre works with local artists to bring the Downriver community professional theatre right in their backyard. Nestled right off of Fort St., and across from a seasonal Dairy Queen, Open Book is conveniently located to bring anyone the thrill of live theatre and human connection.
Individual tickets are only $30 for general admission, $25 for seniors, and $15 for students. Opening Night includes an after glow and all tickets are $35. Tickets can be purchased online at openbooktc.com or through the box office. More information can be found online or by calling 734 288-7753. Open Book is a very intimate space, and therefore requires the audience and staff to mask as a COVID safety precaution.
Open Book Theatre Company
1621 West Road, Trenton, MI 48183
Show tickets: $30 for general admission, $25 for seniors, $15 for students
March 17, 18, 24, 26, 31 and April 1, 7, 8,13, 14, 15 at 8pm
Sundays March, 19, 26 and April 2 and 16 at 2pm
There is NO SHOW on Easter