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BC Youth Theatre presents 'Peter Pan'

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Bluefield College Youth Theatre will present J.M. Barrie's children's classic "Peter Pan," Thursday through Sunday, October 10-13.

            A beloved story about the adventures of a boy who won't grow up, the BC "Peter Pan" performances will run at 7:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, October 10-12, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 13. All shows will take place in BC's Harman Chapel Auditorium. Admission for each performance will be $10 for adults and $5 for non-BC students and senior citizens.

            A mischievous boy who can fly and who never ages, Peter Pan spends his never-ending childhood adventuring on the small island of Neverland as the leader of his gang, the Lost Boys. The BC production begins when Peter visits the nursery of Wendy, John and Michael Darling. With the help of his tiny friend, the fairy Tinkerbell, Peter takes the three children on a magical flight toNeverland, where he, Tinkerbell, the Lost Boys, Tiger Lily and her Native American nation battle Peter's nemesis, the scheming Captain Hook.

            The role of Peter in the Bluefield Youth Theatre production is played by Bluefield College student Summer Wilding, a female veteran of Bluefield College Theatre, who after playing key roles in BC Theatre's "Oklahoma," "Quilters," "Big River" and "Hatfield and McCoy" will take on her first role as a male.

            "It has been very common for the role of Peter to be played by young women since the original stage production of the play in 1904," said BC's Charles Reese, an associate professor of theatre and director of the Bluefield Youth production. "Actresses who have played the role have included Mary Martin, Sandy Duncan, and Kathy Rigby."

            The play will also feature Bluefield College Theatre Department graduate Jennifer Bohannan as Mrs. Darling and Captain Hook. While women in the role of Peter is quite common, Reese said, the casting of a female to play Hook is very unusual.

            "Interestingly," Reese added, "this (the casting of a female to play Hook) was Barrie's original intent when he wrote the play in 1904."

            The remainder of the "Peter Pan" cast is comprised of children and youth from local communities, including Libby Stevens of Camp Creek as Wendy Darling; Noah Jennings of Bluefield as John Darling, and Aiden Stout of Bluefield as Michael Darling.

            The Lost Boys are Joquise Oliver as Slightly, Andrew Brown as Tootles, Ethan Stout as Nibs, Makayla Murphy as Curly, and Emma Miller and Emma Donchetz as the twins. The other inhabitants of Neverland include Joy Edwards as Princess Tiger Lily, Isaac Hodge as Great Big Little Panther, Mallory Brown as the Never Bird, and Riley Stallard, Carri Hall and Malik Robinson as Indians.

            Callista Moore, Cameran Jackson, Desiree Jackson, Jessi Stogner and Angel Meadows play the mermaids, and the crew of the Jolly Roger includes Ty Tatum as Smee, Nick King as Starkey, Caitri Sylvain as Ceccho, Peyton Louthan as Jukes, Brian Fisher as Noodler, and Mary Jones, Lydia Stogner and Ran Wilkins as additional pirates.

            Bluefield Youth Theatre at Bluefield College began in the fall of 2007 when dozens oflocal youth responded to a call for auditions for the production of "Treasure Island," a performance that would become one of BC Theatre's largest and most popular ever. From that event, the vision was born to create a theatre company designed specifically for training and performance experience for the youth and children of the two Virginias.

            In December of 2007, the concept came to fruition with "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," the pilot production of Bluefield Youth Theatre. Since then, the group has staged 11 additional productions, including two repeat performances of "Best Christmas Pageant," "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," "The Adventures of Robin Hood," "Oliver Twist," "Charlotte's Web," "Arthur at Merlin's King's Academy," "A Christmas Carol," "Jungle Book," "Aladdin" and now "Peter Pan." During those seven years, nearly 100 children have performed on the BC stage for audiences of more than 10,000.

            For more information about "Peter Pan" or other Bluefield Youth Theatre productions, contact the BC Theatre Department by e-mail at creese@bluefield.edu or by phone at 276-326-4244 or 276-326-4213.

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