Producer Tim Bair knew when he booked “Peter Pan’’ for The Theatre in the Park’s 2013 season it would be a big hit with families.
By JOE HENDERSON
Special to The Star
“Families love ‘Peter Pan’ — always have,” Bair said. “What surprised me was how many families we have in the cast. It’s unusual, but I think it’s cool.”
For example, the entire Hingula family of Shawnee is on stage this year.
Robert Hingula, who portrayed Sweeney Todd in last season’s opener and also played “Snoopy” in the season finale, “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” has a dual role in “Peter Pan.”
“I play the evil Captain Hook and the nice Mr. Darling. I make a quick costume change and we don’t miss a beat,” he said.
Melissa Hingula plays Mrs. Darling and their daughter, Darcie, 10, is one of the Lost Boys. “Being together in a show is more fun,” Darcie said. “I really like being one of the Lost Boys. We get down and dirty.”
“It’s been a great experience for us, kind of a family night out,” Robert Hingula said.
“Peter Pan’’ is Matt Walberg’s 11th show at The Theatre in the Park. Sons Alec, 15, and Wyatt, 14, portray The Twins. Daughter Willa, 10, is one of the Lost Boys. Dad plays Starkey.
“From time to time some of the kids have been in a show with me. This year they’re all in but our oldest daughter,” said Walberg.
“My wife, Shawna, is our biggest supporter, but we can’t get her to try out for a show. She’s a great dancer but doesn’t want to audition,” Walberg said. They live in Olathe.
Don Leonard, also of Olathe, is portraying Mr. Smee and his son, Curtis, 15, is a pirate. Leonard previously was in “The Wizard of Oz” and two years ago he and Curtis were together in “The Sound of Music.”
“I like being a pirate. I like interacting with the Lost Boys, a lot of them are friends,” Curtis said.
“Being in shows with Curtis is special for me,” the father added. “I’ve gotten to spend a couple of hours a night with him for the six weeks we rehearsed that I might not have now that he’s growing up.”
Director David Hastings’ daughter, Anna, 11, plays Liza, the Darling family’s maid. His son, Isaiah, 16, plays the violin in the pit orchestra.
Flying is a big part of the production and clearly made an impressionon the actors.
When Peter Pan and the Darling children fly away to Neverland they take Liza with them.
“I like getting to fly around the stage,” Anna said. “It was a little scary when I started up but now it’s fun. I love it,” she said.
This is the third time Hastings, a drama teacher at Olathe South, has directed “Peter Pan.” “It’s one of my very favorite shows, a great family show. It’s nice to make believe as long as we can,” Hastings said. He previously has directed “Gypsy,” “Les Miserables,” and “Urinetown.”
Playing Peter Pan is a dream role for Cara Hampton of Kansas City.
“It’s been so much fun,” said Hampton, who lives in Kansas City. “There’s something magical about the show. Peter Pan will always have a special place in my heart.”
Hampton acknowledged being a little apprehensive about flying. “It was a little scary. I was flying out a window and I could see myself slamming into the window sill. But I didn’t. It was like a roller coaster, up and over. Now it’s fun.”
Flying to Neverland with Peter Pan has been one of the highlights of the show for the Darling children. “I thought it would be scary being up in the air on such a tiny wire. But I feel very secure now,” said Rebecca Francis of Overland Park, who portrays Wendy Darling. “It’s like floating through the air.”
“The show has been an awesome experience for me. It was a little difficult at first playing someone so much younger than I am,” said Francis, 19, a student at the University of Arkansas. “I soon got over that.”
Daniel Owens of Overland Park plays John Darling and Ryan Jacobs is Michael Darling.
“I like outdoor theater,” said Owens who was Mowgli in “The Jungle Book’’ and a member of the Royal Court in “Sleeping Beauty” last season. “I like flying above thousands of people. It’s fun, I wasn’t scared at all.”