Talent Machine's 'Peter Pan' takes flight successfully Production: Title role, supporting cast give lively presentation of classic fantasy tale under Bobbi Smith's direction.

July 02, 1998|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

There's a new cog in the gears of the Talent Machine and, thanks to her, director Bobbi Smith's production of "Peter Pan" is running very smoothly indeed.

She is Ally Lichtenfeld, a 14-year-old who studies at the Park School outside Baltimore and at Peabody's Preparatory Division. She plays Peter and is wonderful.

Ally is the picture of poise on stage. She flies through the air gracefully in her unobtrusive "Inventorprises" harness, re-creating James M. Barrie's timeless fantasy anew with each aerodynamic twist.

Her lines come out clearly and emphatically, and her singing is delightful. Peter warbles just about everything of substance in .. the score, and all the big songs -- "I've Got to Crow," "I'm Flying," "I Won't Grow Up" and "Neverland" -- emerge in exemplary fashion.

Peter's job is to fly, sing and be cute, but the final scene, where he returns to find his beloved Wendy grown up, is well-acted and very touching. Here, Ally works beautifully with Wendy, played with authority by lovely Kathleen Scott of the Baltimore School for the Arts.

That final scene is helped along by Karley Willocks, very good as Wendy's daughter, who's ready to fly off with Peter at a moment's notice.

Jeff Paulsen of Annapolis High School is a flighty, foppish, suitably sleazy Captain Hook, and Archbishop Spalding High School's Alison Durgin is fun as Tiger Lily, the wacky Indian chief.

You'll also enjoy Dan Sonntag, who is his usual hilarious self as Captain Hook's goofy assistant, Smee.

Energy is high, which is axiomatic because this is a Bobbi Smith show. Parents, be forewarned that this is a very loud production. With bands of kids, pirates and Indians screaming away on stage and an accompanying tape blasting away, the St. John's campus will seem serene indeed as you leave Key Auditorium.

Some tightening of the show is in order. Youngsters were clearly visible backstage during scene changes -- a cardinal no-no -- and I'd suggest slowing the dialogue in the opening scene so the interplay between the Darling children and parents can be heard to fullest effect. And turn down that tape!

"Peter Pan" plays weekends at Key Auditorium at St. John's College through July 19. Information: 410-956-0512.

Pub Date: 7/02/98

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