Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Never Grow Up - Peter Pan in Threesixty Theatre at Tyson's Corner Review

Disclosure: I received three complimentary tickets to the DC showing of Peter Pan in Threesixty Theatre in Tyson's Corner to facilitate this review. As always, opinions expressed are mine and are never influenced by comp products or tickets.


With summer in full-swing, it's that time of year that parents frantically search for fun activities to keep their children busy and entertained. DC-area parents need look no further than the enthralling production of Peter Pan in Threesixty Theatre at Tyson's Corner Center for a perfect afternoon or night out with the family.

 
But, just like the main theme of Peter Pan, "Never Grow Up," the show is enjoyable for all ages and brings back memories of the childhood classic that makes an adult feel like a kid again.

My husband and I attended the July 1 performance with my 14-year-old daughter, and just like the wide-eyed children all around us, we were equally captivated by the entire production.  I found myself chanting, "I do believe in fairies," as eagerly as the children around me during one of the few interactive parts of the show.
 

Flight to Neverland Flight (L to R) Tinker Bell (Jessie Sherman), Michael Darling (Scott Weston), Peter Pan (Dan Rosales), Wendy Darling (Sarah Charles), and John Darling (John Alati). Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel

What makes this show unique is the use of a 360 projection screen that surrounds the audience with scenes from virtual London as well as the tropical jungle and ocean scenes from Neverland. As the Darling children fly in a 4 1/2 minute Flight to Neverland, it feels as if you're flying right next to them as they soar over London, dodging buildings, diving under bridges and squeezing between pillars. 

In fact, the theater is the world's first fully 360-degree projected backdrop for a live, theatrical performance with the largest surround CGI (computer-generated imagery) venue in the world. There are 12 projectors that deliver 10 million pixels on 15,000 square feet. 400 square miles of virtual London were rendered and it took 100 computers four weeks to create the Hi Resolution images. If a single computer had been used, it would have taken 8 years to render the images.

 

Peter Pan (Dan Rosales) visits the Darling children. Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel

Peter Pan in Threesixty is also special because it is the first production of J.M. Barrie's classic story to have been performed in London's Kensington Gardens, where Barrie was first inspired to create the character of Peter Pan and where the original Peter Pan statue has stood since 1912. The tent that houses the audience and show is the original tent used in the Kensington Gardens performances in 2009.

The show is performed in the round in a 1,475 seat and 100 foot high tent that serves as the screen for the projections. Though it was a weeknight when my family and I attended, the theater was packed! 

The storyline stayed true to the original story, which means there are elements that may be scary to younger children. There is violence, such as sword fighting, and death, but no blood or gore.

 

Hook (Stephen Carlile) and his pirates. Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel

During one scene where a character was killed by sword (which is played out as gently as possible with the sword never touching the character...it is simulated by the sword passing above his throat quickly while a metal sound effect plays and the character falls limp), a child nearby yelled out, "Is he really dead?" 

If your child is sensitive to scenes such as this, or to loud noises (a few parents had to leave with their small children covering their ears) you may want to warn them ahead of time and let them know that it is all make believe. The recommended age for the audience is ages five and up. 

Most of the children I saw, however, fully enjoyed the entire show and were excited by the loud noises and theatrics. As were the adults!

 

Michael Darling (Scott Weston) meets Tinkerbell (Jessie Sherman). Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel

My favorite character was the very animated Tinkerbell (Jessie Sherman) who sulked and pouted so adorably while she showed her disdain for Wendy (Sarah Charles) and her relationship with Peter (Dan Rosales). Dressed in tattered and dirty clothing, including a pixie-like tutu, Tinkerbell was the smallest character but commanded the most attention with her charming performance. 

I was also dazzled by the dances (choreographed by Gypsy Snider, co-founder of the internationally acclaimed Les 7 Doigts de la Main), especially the mermaids (Megan Godin and Elisa Penello) who mesmerized the audience while gliding on silks as well as Tiger Lily (Porsha Putney) who stunned the crowd with her stoic flexibility.

Porsha Putney (Tiger Lily) and Dan Morales (Peter Pan). Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel

There are also two puppets who steal the show, Nana the dog (operated by Liam Fennecken who also plays Smee) and the giant, menacing crocodile. The crocodile is made of what appear to be bamboo sticks and moves by a cycle inside of the croc operated by Gabe Martinez (who also plays Cookson).

The DC area showing of Peter Pan runs through August 16. Tickets start at $25 for weekday performances and at $35 for weekend showings. Premium and VIP packages are also available. There are no bad views as seats are tiered and there are no poles to obstruct views (the tent is completely supported by four exterior "king poles" on the outside of the tent.)

Dan Rosales takes flight as Peter Pan. Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel

Tickets may be purchased on site at the Threesixty Theatre box office, online at PeterPan360.com or Ticketmaster.com, at any Ticketmaster retail location, or by calling (800) 745-3000. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more by calling (877) 407-8497.

Parking is free at Parking Garage A at Tyson's Corner Mall if you don't mind the short walk uphill to the tent located at 8200 Watson Streeet in McLean, VA (about a five minute walk). Otherwise, there are a few parking lots close by that are not associated with the show that will charge around $25 for their closer spaces. Handicapped parking is provided by the show at no charge right by the tent.

Wendy Darling (Sarah Charles) and Peter Pan (Dan Morales). Photo credit: Jeremy Daniel

For more information, visit PeterPan360.com/event/washington, and follow the show on social media at:

~Twitter: @PeterPan360Tour
~Instagram: @PeterPan360Tour
~Facebook: PeterPan360Tour
 
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