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posted: 7/26/2013 6:00 AM

Naperville's North Central College to stage classic 'Peter Pan'

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  • Brian Lynch

      Brian Lynch

  • "Peter Pan" -- often Disney's animated version of the tale -- has ignited imaginations for generations. Beginning this weekend, Alaina Wis of Naperville gets to live out a childhood dream by portraying the title role on stage.

      "Peter Pan" -- often Disney's animated version of the tale -- has ignited imaginations for generations. Beginning this weekend, Alaina Wis of Naperville gets to live out a childhood dream by portraying the title role on stage.

By Sean Hammond

Alaina Wis has been waiting to go to Neverland since she was 4 years old. Beginning Friday she will finally have her chance.

Wis will star in the lead role of North Central College's Summer Musical Theatre production of "Peter Pan" beginning Friday, July 26, and running through Sunday, Aug. 4, at the college's Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave., Naperville.

"('Peter Pan') is my favorite fairy tale," Wis said. "This story is special to me and has been ever since I was old enough to understand it."

Wis, 20, of Naperville and Victoria Newhuis, also of Naperville, both will star as the 12-year-old hero who never wants to grow up.

The cast features dozens of adults and youth from Naperville and the surrounding area. Auditions were open to anyone, not just North Central theater students, and director Brian Lynch said working with the hodgepodge of cast members is what has made the project so enjoyable.

"The fun thing about the summer program is you get all sorts of people," Lynch said. "You get the people who maybe wanted to do (theater) for a living, college kids who want to try, high school kids who are thinking about it, and other people who just want something good and fun to do."

Wis, a musical theater student at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, is in her fourth summer musical at North Central and her second in a leading role.

For her, the best part of working on this project has been working with the 42 kids who play the Lost Boys, Peter Pan's gang of children in Neverland. Wis said watching the kids, some as young as 5, has helped her portray Peter Pan.

"It's a joy to sit back and watch them," Wis said. "I'm almost taking notes from them. They are so free."

Many of the 22 Indians are also children. Lynch likes to say the cast is made up of anyone from ages 8 to 80 years old.

Lynch has been at North Central since 1995 and has been directing summer musicals since 1997. He has acted professionally for more than 30 years, including multiple Broadway performances. In the early '90s he starred as Jean Valjean on Broadway in "Les Miserables."

"Peter Pan" is the Summer Musical Theatre's third and final production of the summer (following "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Iolanthe"). Lynch said "Peter Pan" is a perfect fit for the program.

"It's perfect for the talent pool," he said. "We always have so many young people who want to do our shows."

"Peter Pan" will open Friday with shows at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays this week and next. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors.

Theatergoers can expect to see the time-honored J.M. Barrie story -- with Peter Pan, Captain Hook and Tinker Bell -- that they have grown to love. But it wouldn't be "Peter Pan" without a little bit of flying involved.

"There has to be (flying)," Lynch said. "It's 'Peter Pan'"

And when Wis takes flight on stage, she will be fulfilling a childhood dream.

"Bringing it to life is an earthshaking, sensory experience for everybody," she said. "I hope people can come to see this and feel like their heart is flying along with us."


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