A special place with Peter Pan
Peter Pan, the 2014 St Winifred’s School pantomime delighted a very special audience last Saturday night at the school hall with its first performance in a planned run of 18 shows.
Specially invited guests comprised children and the elderly from homes and special-needs institutions across the island. Along with caretakers and family members, this deserving audience were thrilled by the spectacular sets, dynamic dances, elaborate costumes and well practised cast who delivered their lines with confidence.
Following the record-breaking success of the 2012 production of Alice In Wonderland, the school was extremely excited to launch the 2014 production. The school has an excellent reputation for consistently delivering performances of the highest quality.
The production team is more motivated than ever to top the success of the last show, which enjoyed sell-out performances and amazing reviews. Producer/director Anne Marie McConney has worked with the shows for the past 28 years.
Of the current production she says: “I am thrilled with the performance of the cast and the backstage crew. We have a tremendous team, and Peter Pan definitely has a unique and magical quality.
“The culmination of three months of intense preparation, the show will take the audience on a magical journey with musical numbers, complete with skilfully executed dance routines, well timed and delivered witty lines, and several other surprises.
“Young and old will be enthralled as Peter Pan and his friends soar high above the stage; a life-size crocodile makes an appearance; a finely portrayed Indian chief with his tribe of “braves” helps to save the day; Captain Hook; pirates; mermaids; fairies; and so much more!”
In Saturday’s charitable performance the cast of 102 rose to the occasion, handling themselves masterfully, making one forget that many of them are under the age of nine. Although difficult to single out any one principal cast member’s performance, Luke Coombes as Peter Pan, and Nick Hayward as Captain Hook, really shone.
With the children committing to the rehearsals from early July, months of energy and immense manpower have gone into the production.
“The students still have to do all their homework, and yet they never miss a rehearsal. It is fantastic!” says director McConney.
The biannual pantomime is one of the major ways the private school funds its student’s programmes, but the show is of far greater importance than the financial rewards that result. McConney pointed out it was a character-building exercise for students, teachers and parents.
“The school benefits from positive public relations, the children gain confidence and poise, and a strong sense of pride and responsibility among parents and friends of the school is developed.”
McConney noted that sponsorship by corporate Barbados was vital to the production, and that previous productions had been equally blessed with strong support from the business sector. Parents too are a main driving force behind the pantomime’s machinery.
Long before the shows start parents and other volunteers spend countless hours sewing costumes, building props, assisting at rehearsals, searching for sponsors and selling tickets. Once the show begins dozen of parents and many of the teachers work in various areas such as organizing the food stalls and bar, parking, security, stage hands, ushering in the audiences and manning the dressing rooms.
McConney’s adaptation of this timeless classic gives the Peter Pan tale a modern and local flair. With references to chikingunya, the Solid Waste Tax and other current events, the writer updates the storyline without losing its authenticity. McConney feels this adaptation of James M. Barrie’s Peter Pan promises to be one of the best St Winifred’s School productions to date, as it embraces much of Barrie’s gentle whimsy, with added comedy.
The story of Peter Pan focuses on the Darling family, specifically the children Wendy, Michael and John. Wendy enjoys telling her younger siblings stories about Peter Pan, the little boy who never grew up.
The official opening –– Grand Gala VIP Opening Night –– of this colourful extravaganza was tonight. Shows run on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays until December 22. A substantial number of tickets have already been sold from the box office at Massy Stores with several nights already a sell-out.