2017-07-12 / Community View

The magic of Peter Pan takes to PIX stage July 21-22

BY NICHOLAS PUGLIESE
810-452-2601 •


The cast of the July 21-22 production of Peter Pan collects around Wendy, portrayed by Lapeer’s Mahlea Maresh during the final scene. The play, directed by Lapeer-native Carolyn Dougherty features nearly 30 youngsters aged from six to 18. 
Photo by Nicholas Pugliese The cast of the July 21-22 production of Peter Pan collects around Wendy, portrayed by Lapeer’s Mahlea Maresh during the final scene. The play, directed by Lapeer-native Carolyn Dougherty features nearly 30 youngsters aged from six to 18. Photo by Nicholas Pugliese LAPEER — There’s no community like the stage community.

The timeless tale of Peter Pan will take to the stage at The PIX Theatre in a few weeks — July 21 at 7:30 p.m. and July 22 at 2:30 p.m. — and the young actresses and actors starring in the adaptation have been hard at work preparing for what will be a memorable show.

But as the cast, some of whom are as young as six years old, work to get “offbook,” and with tech and dress rehearsals scheduled for next week, the sense of camaraderie and community has come to the fore.

“It’s been amazing working with everyone in this show,” said Ava Strasser, 18, from Metamora. Strasser recently graduated from Lapeer High School and will star as the titular Pan this month before preparing to head to Western Michigan University for her freshman year to study political science and gender studies. “It’s just a really great experience. I’ve never done anything at The PIX, and seeing everything and everyone come together has been really great,” Strasser said.

Alongside Strasser as Peter, the role of Wendy will be portrayed by Mahlea Maresh, 16, of Lapeer. “It’s been a lot of fun working with everyone,” she said. “I’ve never done anything like this before and it’s been amazing seeing all the different things people are doing (with their characters).” Maresh plans to head to Oakland University after graduating to study physical therapy, but says theater is something she’s always wanted to get involved in.

Next weekend, J.M. Barrie’s beloved classic Peter Pan will come to life at The PIX. This adaptation of Peter Pan by Jon Jory is a streamlined version, adapted specifically for children. “It is a lovely retelling of the story we all know and love,” said show director Carolyn Michelson Dougherty. “Because this adaptation was created for school children some of the expensive hightech elements of the story have also been adapted, with the concentration centered on the characters and the story.”

Dougherty is an English teacher at Flushing High School and also has taught theater classes and workshops at The PIX. She leapt at the chance to direct a full production of youngsters. “It’s been amazing from the auditions to now,” she said. “From that first day to now, they’ve blown me away. A lot of them have never been on stage before and they’ve all done a great job.”

According to Dougherty, in addition to their impressive “directability,” she’s been touched by how quickly the group has taken to really becoming a family, despite the wide difference in ages. “Some of the Lost Boys are as young as six and the sense of community they have developed is amazing,” she said.

Dougherty shared a story of one of her Lost Boys, only six years old, who was struggling to tie his shoe. “Our Mr. Darling (played by Jeremy Dunn) worked with him and taught him to tie his shoes, and now (the Lost Boy) is tying and untying his shoes on stage during rehearsal. It’s really great, and they never would have met each other without this show.”

“I am extremely excited, this is the first fully-produced project from our Theater Education program,” said Jill Lyons, executive director for the Center for the Arts. “It is a project very near and dear to my heart. Kids that started in our theater education program last year, came to auditions this year poised, confident, and vocally strong. I can’t help but be proud of their growth and the growth of this program.”

Tickets are available www.centerfortheartslapeer.org, by phone 810-664- 4824 or in person Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Box Office located inside Gallery 194. All tickets are $5.

PETER PAN – Ava Strasser
WENDY – Mahlea Maresh
HOOK – Tayler Swartz
MRS. DARLING – Bethany Gallagher
MR. DARLING – Jeremy Dunn
JANE – Lauren Webster
TINKERBELL – Cora Fox
NANA THE DOG – Ansley Galat
NARRATOR – Kaan Tuney

THE LOST BOYS
TOOTLES – Chloe Carungi
NIBS – Nathan Keeley
CURLY – Aurora Judd
SLIGHTLY – Berlin Mattila
ADDITIONAL LOST BOYS – Abraham
Merrill, Elijah Mattila, Jesse Thrke
THE PIRATES
SMEE – Paige Mullaney
CECCO – Isabella Chad
SKYLIGHT – Aleah Hayes
SILENCE – Madelyn Lamb
STARKEY – Lexis Scott

THE GYPSIES
TIGER LILY – Delaney Granger
PRINCE NICU – Lilly Norman
TOMA – Isabella Madding
RADU – Meghan Keeley

SCENE CHANGE FAIRIES
Zondra DeJesus, Kimbery Flansburg,
Morgan Castle, Emma Lazzell

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