As the curtain prepares to go up on Coal City High School’s production of “Peter Pan,” Kit Clayburn said he is both excited and sad.
As a senior, this will be the last play Clayburn performs in at the school. But the experience of being part of the theatre program is one he will cherish.
“Theatre has been a huge part of my life since sixth grade and I am obviously excited, yet sad. It’s bittersweet as this is the last time I will be working with some of these people,” said Clayburn, who takes the stage as Mr. Darling.
This weekend, Clayburn will join a cast and crew of nearly 50 students in presenting the classic tale based on the works of J.M. Barrie. The play, directed by Jack Micetich with assistance from student director Riley Nevin, opens Thursday with additional performances Saturday and Sunday.
Audiences will be taken from the nursery where Wendy Darling and her brothers – John and Michael – play being grown-ups to Neverland, home to Lost Boys, fairies, mermaids, Native Americans and pirates led by Captain Hook.
Senior Cody Rogers is the show’s Captain Hook, who is looking to get revenge on Peter Pan for cutting off his hand and throwing it to a crocodile with a distinctive tick.
The title role is played by junior Gabe Ludes, who said he is looking forward to performing this show for audiences.
A self-proclaimed Disney fan, Ludes said he loved the animated tale of “Peter Pan” as a child, and it was the role we wanted when he walked into the audition room back in August.
“I was really banking on this one,” he said.
Playing the iconic character has had its challenges, but Ludes said overall experience has been enjoyable.
“It’s so much fun, there is so much high energy and once you get in the zone its easy to keep it up there,” Ludes said.
The energy he brings to the stage is shared by those he works with including the Darling children, the Lost Boys and even Hook.
The students have been working on the show for about five weeks and each has brought something into the role they play.
“It’s been a really good experience,” said McKenna Patten, a sophomore, who takes the stage as Wendy Darling.
As with Ludes, although Patten said her role has its challenges, she’s spent a lot of time reading through the script, running lines with her parents and developing her character – a child who takes on a motherly role with her siblings and the Lost Boys of Neverland.
“I naturally have a mothering personality, I like caring for people, so that point of Wendy wasn’t very hard for me,” Patten said.
Patten shares quite a bit of stage time with Ludes and they are enjoying every minute of the experience of working together and with the rest of the cast that include principal players Griffin Johnson and Eli Fritz, as John and Michael Darling, respectively; Cody Rogers as Captain Hook; Kaylee Grove, as Hook’s sidekick, Smee; and Clayburn and Alexis Arreloa as Mr. & Mrs. Darling.
Audience members are sure to enjoy the story, lighting, costumes, fight scenes and of course the special effects.
Peter Pan takes flight at 7 p.m. Thursday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Coal City Performing Arts Center, 655 W. Division St., Coal City.
Reserved seat tickets are $5 and available at ccpeterpan.brownpapertickets.com or at the door, cash only, beginning one hour before each performance.