Did you see Peter Pan live last night?
Do me a favor and avoid the snarky comments that abound in social media. I want to ring each and every one of their necks and scream in their faces: “Do you have ANY idea how monumental an undertaking that was? Do you have ANY idea how brave each and every person involved in that live production was?”
Don and I are in theater so we know very well indeed how much goes into a live production. But we do it for audiences that number in the hundreds. Imagine doing it for audiences that number in the millions. With special effects. With flying. Live.
Bravo, I say. And snarky people? Get a life.
Did you notice the dollhouse in the children’s bedroom? It looked awfully familiar! In fact, last week when Don and I watched a preview of Peter Pan, I spotted it. I thought it looked like mine, but the attic room hadn’t been attached yet, so I wasn’t sure. But there it was last night, in its Victorian splendor. I thought I heard a sigh of happiness from Hummingbird Cottage. And Caroline.
In the things you might not have known about Claudia category:
I’ve flown. Just like Peter Pan.
When I was in graduate school at Temple University, we did a large and lavish production of the Medieval Mystery Plays, which portray different stories from the Bible. Most of us were very unenthusiastic about these plays being part of our season. I certainly was. Not very exciting for an actor. But then the director told us that two of the roles, the angel Gabriel and the angel Michael, would involve flying.
Hmmm. I knew I would never play Peter Pan, so I auditioned for Gabriel. I grabbed the opportunity to learn to fly.
FYI – almost all productions of Peter Pan or any production that involves flying are supervised by Flying by Foy. One of our faculty members also worked for Flying by Foy, so we already had someone on staff who knew all about the rigging and the harnesses and the wires. Nowadays, it’s also computerized, but then? All done by hand.
I was cast as Gabriel. I wore a harness and rehearsals consisted of working with my handler, Tony – the guy who worked the wire – and learning to read his signals, which were tugs on the wire. The main challenge was trusting the wire. You have to give up a certain element of control and let the wire take over and that’s not an easy thing to do. But once I did, oh my god, it was glorious! I soared and swooped through the air. I felt the rush of air around me as I looked down at the stage below. It was magical and incredible.
Did I mention I’m afraid of heights?
The set consisted of varying levels, some very, very high. The audience was seated on the stage. So, for my first flight, which was to land me smack dab in the Garden of Eden, I was hidden on top of the highest level. I stood there behind a curtain and a stagehand hooked the wire to my harness. Tony tugged, I nodded, and I suddenly appeared and swooped down over the heads of the audience, landing in front of Adam and Eve. Every night, the audience would gasp, even shout out loud. It was spectacular.
I felt like an otherworldly being. There’s nothing like it.
I had several flights during the course of the show, as did my friend Cynthia, who played Michael. When Jesus ascended into heaven, he was flown straight up into the rafters of the stage house, disappearing from view.
Let me tell you, the amazing feeling and wonder that comes from being on the wire, soaring and flying, swooping and tumbling, is something I will never forget. I’m so grateful to have had that experience.