CENTERVILLE - You might not be able to fly there, but CenterPoint Legacy Theatre is giving you the perfect opportunity to visit Never Never Land.
The trip comes thanks to their current production of the musical “Peter Pan,” an innocent, giddy delight that will leave you feeling like a kid for a few hours. Running now through Sept. 6, the show transforms the classic adventure story into something that feels like it came straight out of a child’s imagination.
The story, of three children who meet a boy who never grows up and travel with him to a magical land, should be familiar to anyone who’s ever seen the well-loved Disney version. The musical has different songs - it was written in the days before Disney licensed their own - but memorable elements such as a ticking clock and Tink’s jealousy do make an appearance.
The musical, however, also tweaks the story in some charming ways. It makes adulthood seem much less like a solemn punishment than the Disney movie did - the mother is the one who told the children stories, there’s no threat to move Wendy away from her brothers, and both parents prove themselves admirably in a sweet scene near the end I’m not going to spoil.
Beyond that, here it’s the mother who accidentally pulls off Peter’s shadow. Instead of being surprised or horrified, she tucks it into a drawer for safekeeping. When she shows it to her husband, he simply comments that it doesn’t seem to belong to anyone they knew. Liza, a servant played with an almost radiant joy by Chelsey Reynolds, delights in Never Never Land much as a child would but is still conscientious enough to dust up a bit.
Director Jim Christian adds to the musical’s magic by emphasizing Never Never Land’s parallels to children at play. The Indians here are all played by women - Tiger Lily seems much more their chief than their princess - but they’re spoken of as “brothers” by the Lost Boys.
It’s perfect because little kids don’t really process people as “boy” and “girl” as they do “fellow playmate” Р in Never Never Land, the Lost Boys, Indians and even the pirates are just groups of children playing pretend.
That sense of goofy discovery extends to some of the musical’s funniest moments, including the pirates getting ready to play musical backup band to one of Captain Hook’s thinking sessions or his and Peter’s hilarious duet during the song “Oh, My Mysterious Lady.” Chuck Gilmore plays Hook as a big kid pretending to be a bad guy, which is exactly right for this production, and Colton Ward is a charming, enthusiastic Peter Pan.
The actresses and choreographer Jessica Merrill should all get credit for the Indians’ dance numbers, all of which were incredibly visually appealing, and costumers Wendy Nagao and Tammis Boam did stunning work all around. Their crowning achievement, however, is the crocodile, aided by actress Krystal Day (who also plays Nana the dog).
It’s a compliment of just how magical the production is that, when the grown up Wendy says that she’s gotten too old to fly, you won’t entirely believe her. If mothers can accidentally steal shadows, housemaids can crow, and casts and production teams can come up with a wonder like this “Peter Pan,” surely even flying is possible.