Barry McNamara  |  Published November 07, 2023

‘Peter Pan’

The classic children’s tale will fly across the Monmouth College stage five times Nov. 16-19.

PETER PAN PRACTICE: Among the cast members pictured at a recent rehearsal are Drew Carlson on the... PETER PAN PRACTICE: Among the cast members pictured at a recent rehearsal are Drew Carlson on the far left, who will play Peter Pan, and Sam Zigmant on the far right, who will play Captain Hook.

Editor’s Note: Monmouth College Theatre is giving back to one of “Peter Pan’s” community partners. Patrons are encouraged to bring a box of cereal to performances to donate to United Way of Greater Warren County’s cereal drive for the Jamieson Center. United Way of Greater Warren County will match every box of cereal donated.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – A classic children’s tale will come to the Monmouth College stage Nov. 16-19.

Under the direction of Monmouth theatre professor Todd Quick, the College will present the classic children’s tale, Peter Pan, Or the Boy Who Would Not Grow Up.

Check out pictures from the ‘Peter Pan’ photocall.

The production of the J.M. Barrie classic is in association with the Buchanan Center for the Arts. The Illinois Arts Council Agency, the National Endowment for the Arts, the United Way of Greater Warren County and the Galesburg Community Foundation all provided support.

Both old and new

Unlike a recent Monmouth theatre production of a children’s tale – The Little Mermaid, which most audience members knew as an animated film – there have been several iterations of Barrie’s story.

“We all have a different version of Peter Pan that springs to mind,” said Quick, who’s even appeared in a Syracuse University version as the Storyteller. “For me, it’s the great Dustin Hoffman/Robin Williams film adaptation called Hook. For some people, it’s the 1950s animated version, or the Mary Martin version (a 1960 TV movie).”

And then there’s going way back to 1904.

“This version is new, but it’s also old,” said Quick. “There will be something familiar and something new and exciting for our audiences. It’s a newer adaptation (by John Caird and Trevor Nunn) that was done for the Royal Shakespeare Company, so it’s new in that sense. But this version also takes us all the way back to J.M. Barrie’s original 1904 play, before it was even published as a novel or novella. This takes us back to Barrie’s original intentions and language, which is just beautiful, poetic, magical storytelling.”

‘The child in all of us’

“The themes that Peter Pan explores are universal – this belief in the power of the imagination, the power of play that we’ve all experienced,” said Quick.

Perhaps it’s going out into the backyard and pretending to be on some sort of adventure, or being in the living room and imagining that the floor has turned into lava.

“That sort of play – that ability that we have as human beings to use our imagination and endow everyday items and everyday circumstances with the extraordinary and with the magical is something that speaks to the child in all of us.” Todd Quick

“That sort of play – that ability that we have as human beings to use our imagination and endow everyday items and everyday circumstances with the extraordinary and with the magical is something that speaks to the child in all of us,” said Quick. “This play speaks to that in a powerful way.”

Additionally, he said, Peter Pan is “enchanting and spellbinding and it tugs at the heartstrings because it reminds us of something that we tend to lose as we grow older.”

‘You Can Fly!’

“One of our first considerations when we selected this title was, ‘OK, how do we handle the flying?’” said Quick. “If you’re going to fly children high up in the air, you can’t wing that. You can’t improvise that. You leave that to the professionals. We didn’t think we were going to be able to afford that.”

“We’ll be getting our students up in the air. It will be a really magical experience and something special on the Wells Theater stage.” Todd Quick

But the College’s “wonderful” community partners stepped up, and Monmouth was able to contract St. Louis-based On the Fly Productions.

“We’ll be getting our students up in the air,” said Quick. “It will be a really magical experience and something special on the Wells Theater stage.”

A town-gown cast

Quick is working with a cast of 43, split between College and community actors, who each have a share of the leading roles.

Fifteen-year-old Drew Carlson, the son of Monmouth Director of Enrollment Visits and Events Michelle Carlson, will play the title role. As an 11-year-old, he had a starring role in the College’s production of A Child’s Christmas in Wales, and he was also one of Ursula’s henchmen in The Little Mermaid.

Monmouth College student Sam Zigmant ’25 of Plainfield, Illinois, will play the role of Captain Hook.

Behind the scenes, said Quick, “That 43 number easily doubles. It’s the largest show I’ve ever directed.”

Zigmant is part of that behind-the-scenes crew, as well, as she’ll serve as the production’s assistant director and lead sound designer while mentoring the stage managers.

# # #

Monmouth College will present “Peter Pan” at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16-18 and at 2 p.m. Nov. 18-19 at the Wells Theater on the College’s campus. Tickets can be purchased online at Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, and $6 for students and faculty with a Monmouth College ID.

Listen Up …

Theatre professor Todd Quick previews “Peter Pan” on the Monmouth College Conversations podcast.

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