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‘Peter Pan’ flying into Thousand Islands Central School for its annual musical

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CLAYTON — Katherine Wiley says putting on a school musical is like running a small business.

“At the end of the day, you have to make money to sustain yourself,” Mrs. Wiley, high school music teacher at Thousand Islands Central School District said. “If people don’t come to your show, how do you put on future shows?”

Mrs. Wiley took a chance last year and directed the musical “Urinetown” by Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann. Students had a blast with the show, which has been praised for its humorous story of greed, corruption, love and revolution. But it didn’t attract audiences. Many people have not been able to get past the show’s title.

So this year, Mrs. Wiley has selected an equally uplifting but better-known show that will attract families and especially children.

“Peter Pan” will be presented by students at Thousand Islands Central for three shows on March 21 and 22.

The school’s production of “Peter Pan” is based on J.M. Barrie’s book, released in 1904, about a mischievous boy who can fly and never grows up. Many theater-goers may be more familiar with the Broadway version, which first opened in 1955 and has been revived on Broadway five times since then.

“It has more modern songs and has been edited so that it is not three hours long,” Mrs. Wiley said of the version being staged by the school, officially called “Piers Chater Robinson’s Peter Pan Musical.”

“With all three acts and intermission it will be under two hours,” Mrs. Wiley said.

Senior Lucas B. Dixon said many students were uncertain at first about staging “Peter Pan.”

“When we first started, we weren’t sure how we were going to like it,” he said. “It was very new from what we were doing.”

But he said the version being staged is different from what students are familiar with.

“It’s the same basic story line, but with a different ending and elements,” said Mr. Dixon, who plays the Indian chief and Cecco, a pirate.

“It’s geared more toward younger people, but it can be enjoyed by anybody at any age,” said senior Eric P. Lange, who plays Capt. Hook. “The music is fun and kind of fast. It will definitely bring in the kids from the community. It’s opening up their horizons.”

Senior Darien B. Frederick, who plays Tiger Lily the Indian princess, said she’s enjoying the variety of music and scenes in the musical. She said topics of songs include pirates singing about cake to “Braves to War.”

“You never know what you are going to get,” Miss Frederick said.

There’s about 40 students in the cast, ranging from grades six to 12.

Peter Pan is played by sixth-grader Aiden Sullivan.

“One of the most exciting aspects of our show is the fact that we are really ‘flying,’ Mrs. Wiley said. “We fundraised like crazy this summer and fall and have enough to rent the rigging from Hall Associates Flying Effects near Chicago.”

A crew from Hall Associates was at the school this past weekend instructing students in flying sequences.

Mrs. Wiley is directing the show even though she is on maternity leave. She can’t be in school during leave, so is conducting rehearsals via Skype.

“It’s challenging, but certainly better than no rehearsals at all,” she said.

She is assisted by stage manager Joy Rhinebeck, school librarian Melissa Balk and student Lucas Dixon.

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The cast of “Piers Chater Robinson’s Peter Pan Musical” at Thousand Islands Central School:

Erick Lange as Mr. Darling and Capt. Hook, Mariah Turner as Mrs. Darling, Maura Warren as Wendy Darling, Sabrina Burns as John Darling, Savanah Henderson as Michael Darling, Aiden Sullivan as Peter Pan, Danny Swartz as Nana, Allison Jones as Liza, Annika Balk and Tootles, Alexi Cassidy as Nibs, Patrick Knapp as twin no. 1, Kayla Filiatrault as twin no. 2, Lily Connerton and Ailene Lindsey as Slightly, Duncan Richardson as Smee and Seth Hisel as Starkey and Cunning Fox.

Also, Nick Lindsey as Skylights/Bald Eagle, Bradley Balk as Mullins and Singing Bull, Michael Campany as Bill Jukes and Running Dog, Lucas Dixon as Cecco and the Indian chief, Zane Henderson as Noodler and Grizzly Bear, Jayden Maloney as Cookson, Darien Frederick as Tiger Lily and Ashlee Bourquin as the crocodile.

Indians: Allyson Aiken, Ashlee Bourquin, Kristi Bushey, Kyala Clegg, Allison Jones, Elizabeth Locke and Mariah Turner.

The chorus: Allyson Aiken, Ashlee Bourquin, Shelby Brass,Markee Brown, Kristi Bushy, Kyala Clegg, Hayley Dolbow, Kayla Filiatrault, Hannah Finley, Kaitlyn Garnsey, Allison Jones, Jessica Knapp, Elizabeth Locke, Victoria Travers and Kassandra Votra.

The details
WHAT: Thousand Islands Central School District presents “Piers Chater Robinson’s Peter Pan Musical”
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, March 21, and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, March 22, at Thousand Islands Central School auditorium, 8481 County Route 9, Clayton
COST: $5 general admission
OF NOTE: There is a free dinner for senior citizens at 6 p.m. Friday, March 21, in the high school cafeteria. Call the district at 686-5594 for reservations.
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