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Juan Diego to Present ‘Peter Pan’

Mar 09, 2016 10:57AM ● Published by Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | Julie@mycityjournals.com

Draper - Last year when Juan Diego Catholic High alumna Jessa Brock approached theater teacher Joe Crnich with the idea of including puppetry in the musical, “Peter Pan,” he embraced it.

That concept will take reality when the students take their school stage at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 3 through Saturday, March 5, and again, Monday, March 7 and Tuesday, March 8 at Juan Diego Catholic High, 300 East 11800 South, Draper. Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for children, and are available at the door or the week of the show in the administration office. 

Co-directing with Crnich is Brock, with Sammy Mora and Rori Phibbs as the assistant directors. Zach Groeblinghoff is the show’s music director; Shelti Thompson is the choreographer; Cara Pomeroy is the set designer; Juan Diego graduate Adam Day oversees sound design; Keaton Wren is overseeing costume and puppet design and dramaturgy and senior Alexandra Bowden is in charge of lighting design.

Junior Brynn Duncan plays Peter Pan. Joining Duncan on stage as the Darling children are senior Sierra Mosses as Wendy; senior Jacob Moore as John; and fourth-grader Gabe Woods as Michael.

“It’s a fun show, and we’re using as many kids in it as possible, from fourth grade through seniors here at the high school,” he said about his 100-member cast. “We’re really excited and have a lot of energy behind the creativity of this show.”

Although the audience may be familiar with the Disney’s tale of J.M. Barrie’s classic “Peter Pan,” of a young boy who refuses to grow up, the Juan Diego production is based more on the book, Crnich said.

“Our show is focusing more on what Peter sees in the nursery, Wendy’s imagination and the Darlings’ travels to Neverland,” Crnich said, adding that items the audience sees in the nursery — a stuffed crocodile, clothes, Nana — come to life and are transformed when they travel to Neverland.

And the traveling of Peter and the Darling children is done through the puppets, he said. 

Brock said this gives students the opportunity to learn puppeteering, a skill that many students have limited experience.

“Puppeteering is a huge skill, and one that is utilized quite a bit in theater today,” she said. “We are using large flying puppets for the flight to Neverland, as well life-size handheld puppets for Nana and the crocodile. This not only allows us to put our own creative stamp on the show, but it allows these students to put it on their resumes as a special skill. This looks really good for students who are hoping to continue theater at the college level. They get to work with a professional puppeteer and learn to work beyond themselves as actors and artists.”

Crnich said that is part of the learning process he wants his students to experience.

“I really want to bring in experienced, qualified, vibrant directors and have our students step up to the challenge of puppetry and how it should be done. This is giving them that opportunity,” he said.

Early in the production, cast members read the book and discussed ideas and concepts, some which has worked their way into the show.

“It’s definitely a collaborative production where we have shared ideas, and they’re learning from one another as well,” Crnich said.

Another challenge for the students is that there are no backdrops, just set pieces that create the Darlings’ nursery, Neverland, the pirate ship and other parts of the musical. The technical theater class of 18-20 students is responsible for building the set.

Auditions were held in late December and the cast members read the script over winter break. In January, they began rehearsals five days per week after school. Their dress rehearsal will be Wednesday, March 3 morning when the cast performs for St. John the Baptist Elementary.

Juan Diego theater students plan to compete with their one-act at region on Saturday, March 19. From there, they hope to advance to state in April. Last year, Juan Diego won first in state with their scene from “The Serpent.”   

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