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Peter Pan takes flight in Boston

The story of Peter Pan is a classic. Over the years, the original story by J.M. Barrie has been adapted into plays, musicals, movies, and even video games. The new production of Peter Pan borrows from all those genres, and it is, as Peter would say, an awfully big adventure.

I’ve been hearing buzz about this Peter Pan “in-the-round” for a few months already, so I was delighted to get the opportunity last night to take my family (minus my 3-year-old, who we left with a sitter) to this most unusual theatrical experience. The first thing that’s extraordinary about this performance is its venue. “In-the-round” doesn’t really do it justice. The theater is a luxurious circus tent (heated, thankfully, with surprisingly nice bathrooms), and the walls of the tent become a breathtaking, 360-degree CGI backdrop for the show. You’ve never seen anything like it.

When Wendy, Michael, John, Peter, and Tinkerbell take flight for the first time, suddenly the whole audience is in the air too. London unfurls beneath us like an urban carpet, with familiar landmarks visible all around. It’s utterly magical. Next to me, I heard my seven-year-old daughter breathe, “It looks so real!”

In Neverland, the leaves of the trees rustle and the water ripples. It feels like you’ve landed inside a magnificently-rendered video game. But you can’t watch the scenery, because there’s a play unfolding on the stage in front of you. Pirates! Indians! Lost Boys! Mermaids! True to the original story, they’re all present and accounted for.

By and large, the acting is solid and energetic, but the standout performance of the show is Tinkerbell. Usually reduced to a flashlight beam and an angry-sounding bell, Tinkerbell comes completely to life here, as a hilariously cranky and sassy sprite. Her command of the English language is questionable at best, but her limited vocabulary does include the word “ass,” which she uses on several occasions, much to the shock and delight of my children.

Another highlight was the puppets. Nana the dog is so wonderfully life-like, it’s easy to forget about the puppeteer chasing her all around the stage. The crocodile puppet is also amazing, constructed of coat hangers and green laundry, slinking around the stage with a glowing clock ticking away (visibly!) in his stomach.

The show is about two hours long, and moves along at a very good pace. We all really enjoyed it, and my kids gave it two thumbs up (each). Both girls said that they would absolutely recommend it to other kids. I was personally glad that we didn’t bring my youngest child,  since there were some intense moments (helloooo crocodile), and I think that the immersive nature of the show might have been too overwhelming.  I did spot some other three-year-olds in the audience (and several babies, too), though. The Peter Pan show website suggests audience members begin at age 5, and that seems sensible to me.

Peter Pan is playing in Boston now through December 30th. Ticket prices start at $40.

Big thanks to the New England Chevrolet Dealers and Queen of the Road for sending me to see the show. I was unfortunately not allowed to take any pictures inside the theater, but I loved this wall of “Magical Moments” outside in the lobby.

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