Photos by David Grist. In this picture: (front left to right) are Maureen Rojewski, Alyssa Forsyth, Alice Ribeiro, Miki Perdikakis and (back left to right) Gabriella Torgeson, Katie Knox and Kaleel Van Voorhees.
Why grow up when you can spend an hour in Never-Never Land with pirates, Lost Boys, epic battles, and a fairy? “Peter Pan, Adventures in Neverland” is a ballet in one act offers all of this and more, later this month at Bath Auditorium.
The show, based on J.M. Barrie’s classic “Peter Pan” was written, scored, choreographed, directed and produced by Pk Van Vorhees. Van Voorhees is the Founder and Artistic Director at The Studio Performing Arts Center in East Lansing which offers area students the chance to be part of its dance company, its musical theater company and/or its acting company.
Van Voorhees is part of an East Lansing performing arts dynasty started by her mother Theda Assiff, whose Studio of the Dance was a fixture on Grand River Avenue for nearly 50 years. She says she’d “like to stress that” The Studio “is a ‘conservatory’ studio, which is different than a ‘recreational’ studio or a ‘competition’ studio.”
According to Van Voorhees, the ballet runs approximately one hour, and includes a cast of 22. The majority of the performers are members of The Studio’s dance company. Inclusion in this elite corps requires that students have studied ballet for at least three years. Seven cast members are drawn from the musical theater company to fill roles as pirates.
Wendy acceptis an acorn kiss from Peter, with Tiger Lily and Tinker Bell looking on. (left to right) - Peter Pan (Katie Knox), Tiger Lily (Kelly Guess), Wendy (Mikaela McWethy) and Tinker Bell (Kaleel Van Voorhees)
“Peter Pan, Adventures in Neverland” incorporates a variety of musical styles, including classical and more contemporary tunes. Combining physical theater and ballet, it follows the basic Peter Pan story, beginning with the Darling children preparing for bed, and continuing through the appearance of Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, a search for a lost shadow, a trip to Never Never Land, Lost Boys and epic battles against Captain Hook and his pirates, a dancing crocodile, and a kidnap and rescue.
Although the performances will take place in Bath (which, as Van Voorhees notes, “is really not very far”) its roots are in East Lansing. The original venue was MacDonald Middle School, but technical issues required the move to Bath. The cast also includes several East Lansing students including Katie Knox as Peter Pan, Kaleel Van Voorhees as Tinkerbelle, Annie McIlhagga as John, Linda Webster and Emma McIhagga as pirates, Brandon Townsend as Narrator and Maureen Rojewski as one of the Lost Boys.
In case you’re wondering, this is definitely a performance geared towards a young audience. Van Voorhees describes it as “very fast paced,” and mentions that there is audience participation during a nail-biting episode involving Tinkerbelle. Specifically, children in kindergarten and older should find the show fun and engaging.