‘Peter Pan Jr.’ showcases OCT theater program participants

The timeless play stars junior and senior casts, and students of all skill levels.

Photo of rehearsal [Courtesy of Melody Murphy]

Home » Arts & Entertainment
Posted July 28, 2023 | By Julie Garisto

An enduring classic and the culmination of the Ocala Civic Theatre’s Education & Enrichment’s Summerstage youth program premieres this weekend.

The classic musical Peter Pan Jr. is live on stage July 28-30 at Ocala Civic Theatre. The story goes to a Victorian-era starry night in London, where the Darling children: eldest Wendy (Cora Taylor), proper John (Peyton Greenbaum) and little Michael (Caroline Overly) are getting ready for bed.

As their parents, Mr. Darling (Zorah Poole) and gentle Mrs. Darling (Jalis Redmond) go out for the evening, Peter Pan (Charlie Overly) flies in through their window. The legendary boy who refuses to grow up, along with his sparkly fairy sidekick Tinker Bell, has flown to London in search of his lost shadow.

“I arrived in 2018, and the kids had been asking to do ‘Peter Pan’ since my arrival,” said Terry LeCompte, OCT’s director of education. “It’s just that kind of story that everybody connects to and relates to, and it’s iconic, which I think is fun because it surprises me that a musical that was written in the 1950s is still something that kids today are still asking to do.”

Students in OCT’s educational program have been working year-round in junior and senior productions, and some have enlisted for the summer. 

“All of our days are split between skill-building activities and rehearsal,” LeCompte explained about the theater classes. “We run this program like a musical theater conservatory. They’ve got notebooks with worksheets and paperwork.”

Photo of rehearsal [Courtesy of Melody Murphy]

Most of all, they learn through play, LeCompte added, an approach Peter Pan himself would deem A-Okay.

“Charlie (Overly), who plays Peter Pan, came out for the Christmas cabaret and singing was still like pulling her teeth at every rehearsal,” Le Compte shared about the play’s lead. 

“She showed up for auditions and knocked it out of the park, and when I talked to her afterward, she said, ‘I wanna be Peter Pan. And I was like, are you sure? Because, all through the fall, I couldn’t get you to sing. … I think she’s one of the youngest members of the senior cast. I think that she is, I don’t know, maybe 12 or 13.”

Peter’s carefree tribe of Lost Boys includes Curley (Sofia Ahearn), Nibs (Liam Ortiz), Tootles (Lauryn Montgomery), and the twins (Bentley Johnson and Leighton Lightbody), with plenty of other lads to round out the gang (Trinity Gori, Preston Greenbaum, Sarayah Hendricks, Harper Nieb, Walter Oathouse, Felix Popca, Scarlett Reynolds, Ashlyn Shannon, and Greyson Sweet). 

Then there’s fearless Tiger Lily (Alessandra Mastroserio) with her fierce band of Brave Girls (Sara Boutwell, River Head, Bentley Johnson, Leighton Lightbody, Kailyn Nast, Zorah Poole, and Tessa Reed) and the Little Brave Girl (Violet Hunt). 

Grace DeClerk, who plays the villainous Captain Hook, is a senior and has won a scholarship to study theater at Eckerd College. 

Peter’s pirate crew features first mate Smee (Ben Burnette), Cecco (Rebecca Andrews), Jukes (Zoe Cox), Noodler (Liam Sylvester), Slightly (Trinity Gori), Starkey (Lily Gonzalez), and many other bumbling buccaneers (Sara Boutwell, Trinity Gori, Rayme Head, Sarayah Hendricks, Zorah Poole, Jalis Redmond, Dash Reed, Sarah Roy, and Liam Shannon). 

Peter Pan is Hook’s mortal enemy since the boy cut off Hook’s hand in a duel and threw it to a crocodile (Sara Boutwell). 

Dani Moreno-Fuentes directs a junior version of the show, and music director Greg Doss supplies the tunes. Madeleine Meadows takes on the choreography. Senior cast stage manager Megan Brown and junior cast stage manager Cheyenne Dever handle all the details. 

Katherine “Jack” Foust provides the fanciful scenic design, and costume designer Amanda Jones dresses everyone up. Lighting designer Jim Foster, sound designer Jazmine Whipple and props designer Cheyenne Dever work together to re-create that exhilarating feeling of the timeless classic tale.

Familiar tunes such as “I’m Flying,” “I Won’t Grow Up,” “I Gotta Crow,” and many more are featured in the abbreviated retelling, what OCT calls “the perfect summer flight into fantasy for Lost Boys and Brave Girls, pirates and pixies, kids and kids-at-heart.”

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