Photos by Erica Rapp and courtesy of NDSU Theatre Arts
Faith, trust, a little bit of pixie dust and a whole lot of teamwork is helping North Dakota State University’s theatre department put on their musical production of Sir J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan.” To get you, your friends and your families excited, we got an inside look at this timeless tale from director Jess Jung, set designer Tiffany Fier and costumer designer Rooth Varland.
From The Director: Jess Jung
Based on Sir J.M. Barrie’s golden- age play of the same name and a script from the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, NDSU’s fall production of “Peter Pan” will be an exciting musical that tells the classic and familiar story of Peter Pan coming to find his shadow, taking the Darling children to Neverland and teaching the timeless lesson of never growing up—flying and pirates included.
The music in the production will be quite different than audiences are used to hearing from the Disney version, and since NDSU is doing a special version of the original musical there are a few more noticeable changes. The first being a longer script and the second being the absence of the Indians.
“Instead of the Indians, we have a reimagined group of ‘lost girls’ so to speak. It’s Tiger Lily and the Pounce, and they’re super tough MacGyver-like girl scout girls. And Patrick Kasper (Gasper’s
School of Dance) is going to be doing the choreography and he’s really into rhythm, so they’ll be doing some cool stomp and tap dances,” said director Jess Jung.
There will be actual flying, which is one of the most exciting aspects of the production. Jung also explained that audiences might see fun, slapstick comedy between Captain Hook, Smee and the pirates, and that many of the cast members playing the Pounce gang and The Lost Boys are all dancers, so the dancing will be turned up a notch. But most importantly, Jung expressed the importance of choosing “Peter Pan” for this fall’s production, and how it’s perfect for all ages.
“There’s just something about Neverland that I think is so magical. You know, the end of ‘Peter Pan’ and the, what I hope will be, a calling to remember to stay young and keep imagining is so beautiful and I don’t think it ever gets old,” said Jung.
From The Set Designer: Tiffany Fier
The most noticeable part of Tiffany Fier’s set design is the use of three large triangular column-like devices that will rotate to represent different locations, which is an old theatrical element of Greek theatre called periaktoi.
You’ll see the columns change between the nursery–complete with Victorian wallpaper and a large bay window that opens for cast members to fly through–in addition to the sky and forest scenes. The transitions between settings will also be very strategically choreographed.
“You’ll see different pieces that will be part of the pirate ship in one scene, but those pieces also might have bed covers and turn into the beds for the nursery. It’s very utilitarian and everything has to be reusable. It was about just how to make stuff feel like you’ve changed location but not moving stuff around so much, and having a smooth transition between everything,” said Fier.
A third party company will be bringing in their own equipment to make flying come to life. And of course, flying is a major aspect of the set’s design. “The tricky thing with flying was making sure that I designed a set so that the cast members don’t run into things while they are flying. That’s why the set is a little more open with a lot of adding and subtracting various smaller pieces,” said Fier.
From The Costume Designer: Rooth Varland
Peter Pan & The Lost Boys
“With this, I wanted to give them the colors of the island and make it look like The Lost Boys had made their clothes or had remade the ones they were lost in. I was told by Jess (Jung) to make them look like they’re having more fun than anyone else,” said Varland.
Tiger Lily & The Pounce
“Tiger Lily’s gang is called the Pounce, and they’re supposedly into cats. During production meetings, we talked about them being tough and close to the earth, but somehow a bit tribal. And I thought they sounded a bit like girl scouts, so they have these specific girl scout-like uniforms,” said Varland.
Captain Hook & His Pirates
“Hook is pretty straightforward. The pirates will be dressed in really bright colors because they’re more of the clown-like characters,” said Varland.
Nana & The Crocodile
The costumes for the crocodile and the Darling family’s dog Nana, who will be based off of the Komondor breed, are designed to maintain a human element. “The costumes won’t totally enclose the people wearing them, so it will be mostly on their backs and they’ll be on all fours. So it will look like a dog or a crocodile but it will also have that human aspect, almost of a puppeteer, underneath the costume,” said Varland
A musical based on the play by Sir J.M. Barrie and an abridged version premiered by the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, Minn.
October 20 & 21 at 7:30 p.m., 21 & 22 at 2 p.m.
NDSU Festival Concert Hall 1511 12th Ave. N, Fargo
Details and tickets: ndsu.edu/performingarts