N.C. Theatre, Memorial Auditorium at Progress Energy Center
Through July 20
Can a generation of kids raised on Pirates of the Caribbean's Captain Jack Sparrow still appreciate Captain Hook? Well, they might, at least as he's played by Ira David Wood III in the N.C. Theatre's production of Peter Pan. As Hook, Wood (who also plays Mr. Darling, as is traditional for the play) has a great time camping it up as the self-proclaimed "greatest villain of them all," even sneaking in a few of his Scrooge-isms from his annual production of A Christmas Carol.
It's the classic story of how Peter takes the three Darling children, led by Wendy (a very good Sarah Evelyn Langston) to Never Never Land for encounters with the Lost Boys, Indians and, of course, pirates. The production looks terrific, particularly the detailed sets, and everyone gives their all with the performances, particularly Wood and Gail Bianchi, who has a terrific energy as Peter, capturing his childlike joy and energy in every scene.
However, it's a question as to whether younger children—the target audience for the play—will have the patience for the slow-paced production. This version is based on the 1954 play that featured Mary Martin and, later, Sandy Duncan as Peter; this time out, the title role is taken by Bianchi from the national tour of Pan. The problem lies with the play itself, which has always been a flawed adaptation. The scenes drag on, the songs aren't very memorable and the scenes with Princess Tiger Lily just haven't aged well. The Disney film is perhaps the most fun version of Peter Pan, and the underrated 2003 film is the best adaptation of the original story, but despite its flaws, this play proves there's still plenty of life left in Never Never Land.