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Peter Pan flies into TCC

photo courtesy of mcroy rigby entertainment
Peter Pan tells Captain Hook what's what in this classic musical. The story of Peter Pan celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
By Lauren Hillery
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, November 18, 2004
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"Peter Pan" may have a male character in green tights, people who fly and magic fairy dust, but after 100 years the story of innocence is what keeps drawing audiences.

Conducter Craig Barna, one of the producers of the show, and UA alumnus has been involved with this production three times. He believes that the story of Peter Pan has something to offer for everyone.

"The first comment I hear is the music sounds wonderful. The second comment is the flying is so great and the third comment is we brought our kids because we thought they would enjoy it, but I'm really having a great time; this is a great show for everybody," Barna said.

If you go...

'Peter Pan'
Tucson Convention Center
260 S. Church Ave.
Nov. 23-28
Tickets are $22-$52

This production is traditional in that Cathy Rigby again plays Peter Pan, the characters fly, the plot line is the same and the characters are all there; Pan, Hook, the infamous crocodile. But, this particular production has had a lot of revamping.

For instance, Barna reorchestrated the whole show including the vocal arrangement. Barna strove to make the sounds more authentic by updating an American Indian-sounding song to make it a percussion number.

"That was the one that was sort of oldfashioned and not politically correct, and we really wanted to change it and make it a little more up to date and relate to the plot more. That number's been very successful," Barna said.

Because of his extensive involvement with this show, Barna has had a lot of freedom to add his own improvements to the music. He says he's proud of the fact that he's been able to fix certain spots that he always considered problem areas.

"It's great to have my hand in a lot of this stuff because at this point I've done the show so often and know it so well I feel like I can bring a lot to the table. It's been a terrific collaboration," Barna said.

But Barna's work did not stop in pre-production. Because the show only travels with four core musicians, it picks up an entirely new orchestra at each venue. Consequently, Barna must teach the score in five hours sometimes on opening day.

"Peter Pan" the play has had its share of competition in the past; similar to now with the opening of "Finding Neverland;" the last tour started when "Hook" came out. But Barna is not worried about the competition.

"The interest in the story itself gave us more press so I think it actually helped us. I think the same is going to happen with this. There's so much interest in the story itself that people want to see it in whatever incarnation it's in," Barna said.

Barna believes they have even more competition when it comes to getting children's attention, but that live theater offers them something new.

"Kids have 178 different cable channels they can chose from and XBox. A lot of these kids are seeing live theater for the first time, so to really feel like we've impacted their lives with live entertainment is really something special," Barna said.

Not only does he believe that the show impacts the youth audience, but it also invigorates him at every production.

"No matter what kind of lousy day I've had, I can go into the theater and start waving my arms around and hear those kids giggling behind me and it's great," Barna said.

And it's the universal themes of the story that allow for its continued enjoyment for the past 100 years. For Barna, "Peter Pan" offers three lasting themes that are beneficial to all.

"Good triumphs over evil, you must never lose your childlike sensibilities, and there's always a place for you to go where time stands still and you can enjoy yourself and you have the power to take yourself there," Barna explained. "It gives you hope and it takes you on a journey that you won't get anywhere else."

"Peter Pan" will run Tuesday through Nov. 28 at Tucson Convention Center. Tickets can be purchased at Ticketmaster or at the TCC ticket office for $22 to $52.

Because Barna was a part of the UA theater program, he will bring his actors for a student question-and-answer session.

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