‘For Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday’ shows for 2nd weekend

The show opened June 15 on the Homer Spit

With Pier One Theatre celebrating their 50th anniversary this summer, the play “For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday” is full of the gift of memory, nostalgia, family and what it means to be a grown-up. “Peter Pan,” directed by Val Sheppard, opened on June 15 at the little red theater on the Spit.

This is the second show of the season and follows “Cosmic Hostel,” which closed at the end of May. The cast completed two weeks of rehearsal after the last show, which is atypical for how turnover usually occurs at the theater, according to Sheppard. In an interview before the opening performance, Sheppard mentioned that the cast worked hard over that period and was tired but ready for the show to open.

The cast includes six actors: Cathy Stingley, Maggie Quarton, Ken Landfield, Ken Goldman, Sara Brewer and Greg Fries. Five are siblings and one is the dying father.

The play opens with Stingley as Ann, the oldest of five siblings, addressing the audience about the joy of playing Peter Pan as a teenager. The script sounds “true” because, in a sense, it is. Stingley did play Peter Pan as a teenager herself. She still has her costume and program from the play, her program statement says.

There are three uninterrupted scenes in the story without an intermission. The first at the bedside of the siblings’ dying father in the hospital, the second a long memory-infused conversation at the family table and finally, the siblings return to the fantasy of Neverland in their sleep. The stage is set with minimal scenes and props but does include plenty of emotion and, of course, flight.

As Sheppard describes in her “Note from the Director” in the performance program, the “Peter Pan” of the title refers to playwright Sarah Ruhl’s own mother, who had played the character multiple times throughout her youth.

“ … this show was a gift that she was given as a means of commemorating both her and her family,” Sheppard wrote.

Sheppard also mentioned in her Note the realistic nature of the characters and the fact that parts of the script are taken from actual conversations that Ruhl recorded with her own family members.

Sheppard, before the first show, told the Homer News that she appreciates how well-rounded Ruhl’s characters are. “They feel very well lived in,” she said.

“For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday” has four more shows available from Thursday, June 22 through Sunday, June 25, all at 7:30 p.m. at the Pier One Theatre on the Homer Spit. Tickets are currently available for purchase at the Pier One Theatre office either in person or over the phone at 907-226-2287, or they can be reserved online at pieronetheatre.org/tickets.

This original version of this story misgendered director Val Sheppard. Sheppard uses she/her pronouns. Homer News apologizes for the error.