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Threesixty's Peter Pan is a soaring experience for audiences

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"Peter Pan"

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The live-stage production happening in Atlanta now through March 20, is based on Sir J.M. Barrie’s classic tale of a boy who doesn’t want to grow up and the very emotional leap from childhood to adulthood.

From the outside, the white tented-theatre resembles the top of a vanilla ice cream cone. But this is more than your ordinary big-top production. This 1,300-seat tent features the world’s first 360 degree projected theatre. Inside, arena-style seating surround a softly lit stage where three beds await the first scene. Circling above the audience are images projected of London’s rooftops and the terrace window of the Darling children.

Act 1 opens with the introduction of Mr. and Mrs. Darling preparing for an evening out while trying to get the children into bed and asleep. Soon after their parents leave, Wendy, John and Michael are awoken by Peter Pan and his Neverland sidekick, Tinkerbell, as they search for Peter’s shadow. Enchanted and quite taken by Peter, the children agree to fly off to Neverland with him.

Fact: It took four weeks and 200 computers to create the realistic (CGI) images projected onto a screen that is three times bigger than a standard IMAX theatre screen.

Act II literally takes off, as Peter Pan, Tinkerbell and the Darling children take flight with suspended cables that are inconspicuously attached and reattached by actors throughout the play. Amazingly, the sensation of flying is pulled off thanks to a little faith, pixie dust and CGI technology, which constantly change creating the sensation of soaring over London’s Kensington Gardens.

Fact: the projected screen is created by 12 projectors that each cover a 30-degree segment of the set.

A favorite part of the show for my six year-old son and my almost four year-old daughter was the appearance of Captain Hook’s most feared nemesis-a menacing crocodile that has a taste for the crotchety pirate. The self-propelled reptile is powered by two men and on more than one occasion greets the audience with a deep and guttural belch-something that sends my children and younger audience members into laughter.

The stage props seamlessly transition between the Darling’s nursery to Neverland before you even have time to take notice. Overall, the actors perfected their craft well and delivered a very believable and entertaining performance. I was mesmerized by the dance stylings of Tiger Lilly, as were most of the men in the audience. Some other impressive performances included Darrell Brockis as Captain Hook, Jef Canter as Smee and the acrobatic acts of Neverland’s enchanting mermaids, Rain Anya (yes, I double checked the spelling in the program) and Sarah Bebe Holmes.

Fact: The theatre stands 100 feet high and traveled nearly 6,000 miles by boat from London to San Francisco.

While I am an avid Disney fan, I think this show made the right decision to depart from Disney’s cartooned adaptation and return to the roots of Barrie’s masterpiece. Threesixty’s Peter Pan does have some darker elements that fortunately went unnoticed by my children, but drove home the fragility of childhood to grown-up audience members. With a running time of two and a half hours (including one 20-minute intermission), I would not recommend it for children under three years of age. However, this one-of-a-kind experience is worth every penny for the magic and memories of youth that it creates. Oh, to be young again if only for one night!

For showtimes or to purchase tickets click here

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