Peter Pan at the Alley - Scratch the Fairy Dust

The rarely-produced version of Peter Pan that the Alley Theatre will be offering up shortly is more grown-up than childish, more Royal Shakespeare Company than Disney, reportedly closer to author J.M. Barrie's original concept and has adults playing the children and a man (not a boy! not a woman in drag!) playing Peter.

Oh, and although there's flying, there's no fairy dust.

According to Alley artistic director Gregory Boyd: "The concept of fairy dust was something Barrie added to the play later - after several children had injured themselves by trying to fly by jumping off things. Adding the idea of fairy dust to later productions was a way of telling the kids not to try it, that it wouldn't work without the secret ingredient."

Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Would Not Grow Up with its 20-member cast begins October 1 on the Alley's Hubbard stage and is based on research for the 1982 Peter Pan production done by the Royal Shakespeare Company, Boyd told Art Attack in an e-mail exchange.

"Most versions of Peter Pan are based on adaptations - musicals, cartoons, films - or the 1928 script that Barrie finally published a quarter century after the first production in 1904. Barrie had many alternate scenes, characters, even sequels and prequels in his head - Captain Hook at Eton was one that would be interesting to see some day. And there is no "final" or complete Peter Pan in Barrie's mind or in any book. The play, like the character, refuses to enter adulthood in that way."

In this version, Boyd wrote, "Peter is not so much the merry imp of the Disney-fied versions, but more troubled. He has some notion of the seriousness of his predicament, though he can't fully understand the cause of his isolation and loneliness."

A Storyteller (a version of Barrie himself) narrates the play. According to Boyd, "His text is drawn primarily from Barrie's marvelous and never-heard stage directions and from Barrie's novel (Peter and Wendy) too, which sets a tone for the scenes that places them in a deeper context, I think."

This Alley version is not an exact copy of the British one that Boyd saw 20 years ago. It has new music, a few add ons from Barrie and some cuts. Putting in everything that they had from Barrie would have made the play run four hours long, Boyd said, adding:

"We felt that was too long for a fairy tale!"

Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up, a fantasy by J.M. Barrie, in a new version by John Caird and Trevor Nunn, begins performances October 1, opens officially October 6 amd runs through October 31. Tickets are available at www.alleytheatre.org and at the Alley Box Office, 615 Texas Avenue or by calling 713-220-5700.

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