2018-08-23 / Front Page

‘Peter Pan’ Flies on Tall Ship

By James Merolla


Glen Lewis, left, as the pirate Smee and Tara Gragg as the Pirate Queen in the Island Moving Company’s production last year of “Second Star to the Right: A Tale of Hook and Pan.” (Photo by Kate Whitney Lucey) Glen Lewis, left, as the pirate Smee and Tara Gragg as the Pirate Queen in the Island Moving Company’s production last year of “Second Star to the Right: A Tale of Hook and Pan.” (Photo by Kate Whitney Lucey) It may be the only instance in creative history where the Man Who is Undead (the one with the fangs and the cape) led to the Boy Who Would Not Grow Up (the flying one in the green).

The concept of Island Moving Company’s staging of the Peter Pan story, “Second Star to the Right: A Tale of Hook and Pan,” aboard the decks and rigging and around the docks of The Oliver Hazard Perry at Fort Adams in Newport Harbor, Sept. 6-9, got its original “bite” from Dracula.

Concept choreographer Miki Ohlsen got the idea for this Peter Pan in a flash during one of IMC’s performances of “Dracula” set specifically in the Belcourt Castle mansion.


Christine Sandorfi, who played the role in last year’s production, again plays Peter Pan in the upcoming “Second Star to the Right: A Tale of Hook and Pan,” staged on the Oliver Hazard Perry. (Photo by Kate Whitney Lucey) Christine Sandorfi, who played the role in last year’s production, again plays Peter Pan in the upcoming “Second Star to the Right: A Tale of Hook and Pan,” staged on the Oliver Hazard Perry. (Photo by Kate Whitney Lucey) “As I sat cross-legged, silently mesmerized, in the musician’s loft of Belcourt Castle, with a few other cast members, the succubae flew down from the organ loft on silks to attack the sleeping Harker,” Ohlsen told Newport This Week.

“In one instant, I had a flash of a Peter Pan flying. I knew at that moment that ‘Peter Pan’ would be the next site-specific ballet I would create.”

IMC is known for its collaborations, notably its annual production of “The Nutcracker” at Rosecliff mansion. “There was no other way I wanted to do a ‘Peter Pan’ than aboard a true Captain Hook ship, a Tall Ship. The Oliver Hazard Perry was just finished. She was an amazing Tall Ship,” said Ohlsen.

“We started the conversation about collaboration. Jess Wurzbacher, the Executive Director and her board of directors [at Oliver Hazard Perry], liked the idea. We were off and running.”

Ohlsen has been enamored of the Boy Who Would Not Grow Up ever since she was a little girl. She played the role of Peter in high school, complete with flying and full orchestra. Before that, she watched the famous Mary Martin televised Broadway special relentlessly.

In this version of Pan, there are “Lost Boys" but also “Lost Girls,” with special choreography by Christine Sandorfi. The girls, a fearless band led by Tiger Lily, are indigenous to Neverland.

“They are paddlers, fishers, and gatherers,” said Ohlsen. “Their clothing is pulled from the detritus from passing ships that have run aground. They are friends to the Lost Boys, intrigued by them and willing to do battle alongside them with Hook and his band of Pirates, for Peter, Wendy and Tink, and for peace in their beloved Neverland.”

“The friends from Neverland asked themselves every day: ‘Would today be the battle to end all battles? Would time finally catch them all? Could something happen that would alter the course of history in this magical Neverland?’” said Ohlsen of the changes. “They were ready to fight for their dreams, so they’d sacrifice everything else, even their own lives.”

“Second Star to the Right: A Tale of Hook and Pan,” in two acts, premiered in 2016 with support by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The debut run featured four performances that quickly sold out, and a fifth show was added.

Coast Guard regulations limit occupancy on the ship, which restricts the number of tickets available to 80 for each performance. The 2018 production will feature seven performances, Sept. 6-9, and the original score performed live by Rhode Island musicians under the direction of composer Tobias Andrews. Costumes are by Eileen Stoops.

Tickets and complete information available online at www.IslandMovingCo.org, or 401-847- 4470. Performances are at various times.

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