Youth Theatre's 'Peter Pan' will make a lost boy of you

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Column by Sarah Berkshire

By Sarah Berkshire

The first time Peter Pan came on stage — flying, smiling, sprinkling fairy dust — my stomach fluttered and a childlike grin spread across my face.

I caught the Sunday performance of Youth Theatre of Hardin County’s “Peter Pan” with some friends and family, including my 4- and 5-year-old sons. From the second row of the Hardin County Schools Performing Arts Center at John Hardin High School, the story actors brought to life just washed over the audience. The musical is immediately intriguing, quickly captivating and far more than anyone would expect of a young cast.

It’s a children’s story, yes, but again and again I found myself wrapped up in it, as if I had never grown up. Then, every time I glanced at my sons, I was that much more entrenched. The older one was especially awestruck, wide-eyed and gnawing the neckband of his T-shirt.

There were so many great things going on.

First, the cast acted, sang and danced so well and were dripping with confidence. It was clear they put in some long, hard work and gave the show all they had.

There were plenty of laughs, too. Nana, the giant baby-sitting dog. Peter wincing through shadow reattachment. Captain Hook’s sidekick. Smee. The ominous ticking croc.

It was heart-warming, never so much as when children all over the theater clapped earnestly to give Tinkerbell strength.

The sets and the costumes were top-notch, too. Plus, the well-appointed facility and an orchestra pit full of capable musicians topped off the show.

And, of course, there was the flying, smoother and higher than one would imagine.

I’ve never met any of these young actors, but by the end of the show, I was so proud of them.

In fact, I felt a little guilty, standing among Sunday’s audience of approximately 520, applauding the cast. I think I’d been underestimating Youth Theatre of Hardin County for a decade. I first learned of the organization when I wrote a preview story its 2003 production, “Hello, Dolly!”

I’ve always heard the productions are more than a typical school drama and the excerpts I’ve seen have always been good. Yet, I did not realize how entertaining a musical starring middle and high school students could be.

Mitzi Lynch, who takes care of ticket sales, said a total of about 1,100 tickets were sold for the first three shows. Because the story appeals to children, she said, bigger crowds are turning out and last weekend was the best weekend the organization has had in a long time.

There’s still time to see “Peter Pan.” Show times are 7 tonight and Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and younger. The Peter Pan and Friends Children’s Party is at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets for the party are $10 and reservations are required. For more ticket information, call 735-7514.

Parents will want to plan little ones’ naps and snacks accordingly. My younger son was a bit unnerved by Captain Hook and had to leave the show early. But that’s on me. With arriving early to get tickets and seats, it was about a three-hour outing, more than he was up for.

Sarah Berkshire can be

reached at (270) 505-1745 or sberkshire@thenewsenterprise.com.