I love the theatre. To watch others capture a character and bring such depth and emotion to the room that one becomes completely immersed in another world is a gift unlike any other. As such, I feel the absence of the theatre experience in my life acutely, and so when I saw that the Berkeley Playhouse was presenting Peter Pan: The Musical, I jumped at the chance. At last, here was a production I could take the kids to and perhaps feel a little magic myself. I was not left disappointed.
From the small yet creatively functional stage to the enthusiastic and well-cast actors, the entire show is a delight. Compensating for a tight space, the atmosphere transitions from nursery to Neverland with ease, and then back again- though you wish it to stay Neverland forever.
Brandy Collazo captures the spirit of Peter Pan with her mischevious grin and her clear voice that beckons you to fly away and never look back. Megan Barrow is sweet and motherly, without being overbearing in the role, which is exactly what Wendy ought to be. And Gabriel Grilli steals the show with his hilariously elegant rendition of Captain Hook, a character which often provides a level of humor that the adults in the room can appreciate without being inappropriate.
The supporting cast is equally good, often transitioning between roles smoothly and seamlessly, and the children on stage make a wonderful connection with the children in the audience- it almost felt as though we were all Lost Children for a while.
Our evening at the Ashby Stage completely captivated my children - all the children, really - who gasped in wonderment at the flying and cheered the sword fights onward, and clapped their little hearts out while yelling "I believe" to save Tinkerbell's life. And so did I, and every other not-grown-up-this-evening. While I do not recommend taking a child under the age of four (it's quite a long play at around two and a half hours), people of all ages will enjoy the magical tale of Peter Pan and the triumph of a young heart.
The Berkeley Playhouse's Peter Pan: The Musical is playing now through August 23, 2009 at the Ashby Stage. Tickets are available online or at the door, and Thursday nights feature a "pay-what-you-can" option. The Ashby Stage is located in Berkeley at 1901 Ashby Avenue, adjacent to the Ashby BART Station.