In some ways, the stage has always been Neverland.
That’s how Stephanie Hutton VanderBaaren explains the enduring joy of staging the Brockville Operatic Society’s production of Peter Pan, which opens Thursday night at the Brockville Arts Centre.
“We ended up getting over 100 people (auditioning),” said Hutton VanderBaaren, who, along with Chris Griffiths, is producing what is, by local standards, the large-scale musical.
“There is sort of a way that you don’t have to grow up. You’re always playing when you’re on stage,” she said.
While this is the first time the operatic society is putting on Peter Pan, Hutton VanderBaaren is no stranger to the show.
“I did Peter Pan 25 years ago and I played the role of Peter Pan, so it wasn’t hard to try to convince me,” she said.
Casting female performers in the lead is a longstanding Peter Pan tradition in the musical theatre world, and the local community theatre troupe is carrying it on, double-casting the lead with Avery Last and Zoe Cosgrove.
Two other community theatre regulars, Paul Duchesne and Carl Sherbino, are double-cast as Captain Hook.
The show features a large cast of some 50 people, and they’ve all been enjoying the trip to Neverland, she said.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been on a production team where everyone was so gung ho for their roles,” said Hutton VanderBaaren.
“I think the main message of it is never to lose your sense of wonder.”
Hutton VanderBaaren did not want to spoil too much, but she said audience members will be impressed with the special effects cooked up by production designer Todd Noel.
“The reason that the kids can fly is because of him,” she said.
Director Kimberly Cosgrove was the one who wanted to stage Peter Pan, added Hutton VanderBaaren.
Lynda Joanisse is the music director, while Logan Whyte is the choreographer.
What: Peter Pan, A Musical, based on the play by Sir J. M. Barrie, produced by the Brockville Operatic Society
When: Thursday at 7:30 p.m.; Friday at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Where: Brockville Arts Centre
Tickets: Adults $31.50 + HST; Students (Over 14) $23.50 + HST; Child (14 and under) $18.50 + HST. Call 613-342-7122, or go online.