DSU theater department opening ‘Peter Pan’ prequel play

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Almost everyone knows the story of Peter Pan, but how he became the boy he is is a different tale. Dixie State University’s “Peter and the Starcatcher” is the backstory behind Peter Pan.

“Peter and the Starcatcher” is a five-time Tony Award winning-play by Rick Elice, which is based off of the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.

“[This play] might unfold in ways you don’t expect,” said Stockton Myers, a freshman undeclared major from St. George. “Maybe, just maybe, some of the characters in Peter Pan lied about what happened to them that got them to the places they were.”

Theater Education professor Russ Saxton said DSU secured the rights to perform the play a year ago and auditions started November 2016. Saxton said this is his first play he has directed at DSU. However, he has directed over 30 shows during his time at Dixie High School as a theater teacher.

“He’s one of the best directors out there because he knows what he is talking about and how to convey his vision to the rest of the cast,” Myers said.

Myers was cast as the orphaned boy who eventually becomes known as Peter Pan.

“I kind of had a teenage girl screaming moment because that’s a big deal for someone like me,” Myers said. 

He is among 12 other cast members who perform in the show. 

“There’s a lot of formations and crazy things we do in the show, and in order to do that, we have to trust each other to the max,” Myers said. “We have gotten very acquainted with each other and I would give my life for any of these guys because we have become great friends.”

Saxton said the show is physically demanding for everyone involved, and he set ground rules for what he expected of his performers.

“From the first day of rehearsals, I told all of the students that they needed to start on a regime of a cardio workout, and they will be exhausted by the time they get done with the show,” Saxton said. 

Myers said he has lost around 20 pounds since he started rehearsing. 

“The show itself is so fast,” Myers said. “It goes scene-end, on to the next scene and if you’re not there, too bad, it’s starting without you.”

Aside from the physical work, Jadon Webster, a sophomore music major from Santa Clara, said he had to adjust to performing in a new style because he is used to acting as a sappy romantic character. Webster was cast as Black Stache who later becomes known as Captain Hook.

“I have never played the villain before so that has been a challenge in itself to learn how to be a bad guy,” Webster said.

To get into character, Webster said he tries to live in the moments that are happening on stage.

“You just need to let yourself react to what is happening on stage,”  Webster said. “A lot of acting has to do with listening, not just repeating lines, you know?”

While on stage, the actors and actresses use a variety of props to create different settings, Saxton said. The theater department was even allowed to rent the same props that were used on Broadway.

“There’s such a limited set and you feel like a kid playing pretend,” Myers said. “We invite you to come and imagine with us a world where mermaids, pirates and a boy that can fly who never grows up exists.”

Before the play opens to the public on Feb. 23, there will be a special performance for only DSU students on Feb 21. The tickets cost $1 for students with their DSU ID and $10 for general admission. It will be held in the Eccles Main Stage Theatre until March 4 at 7:30 p.m. each night.