Theater

Lift off: Musicals coming to high school stages throughout McHenry County

From 'Peter Pan' to 'Cinderella' to 'Our Town,' your guide to the area's offerings

[Mitchell Hopkins, 14, practices flying for the upcoming production of "Peter Pan" at Crystal Lake South High School.]
“We went off in search of a newer, fresher take on ‘Peter Pan,’ ” said Ben Stoner, the director of “Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure,” opening Feb. 16 at Crystal Lake South. “We are not doing the 1954 Mary Martin musical version everyone knows. If you’ve seen a ‘Peter Pan’ musical you’ve probably seen that one.”
Stoner said Crystal Lake’s version of “Peter Pan” – containing a cast of 48, including four elementary and middle school students (Stone’s 8-year-old daughter, Lilah, shares the role of Michael Darling) – is more true to the original 1904 James M. Barrie “Peter Pan” play. 
“It really does end kind of sad, which is how he wrote it, this tearjerker goodbye between Wendy and Peter,” he said. “We think often about ‘Peter Pan’ being a story about a boy who doesn’t grow up. I like to think this version is really more about growing up versus not growing up. It’s very poignant. It’s breathtakingly beautiful. I think, at the end, it contains all of the stuff you would expect it to contain.
[Mitchell Hopkins, 14, practices flying for the upcoming production of "Peter Pan" at Crystal Lake South High School.] “We went off in search of a newer, fresher take on ‘Peter Pan,’ ” said Ben Stoner, the director of “Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure,” opening Feb. 16 at Crystal Lake South. “We are not doing the 1954 Mary Martin musical version everyone knows. If you’ve seen a ‘Peter Pan’ musical you’ve probably seen that one.” Stoner said Crystal Lake’s version of “Peter Pan” – containing a cast of 48, including four elementary and middle school students (Stone’s 8-year-old daughter, Lilah, shares the role of Michael Darling) – is more true to the original 1904 James M. Barrie “Peter Pan” play. “It really does end kind of sad, which is how he wrote it, this tearjerker goodbye between Wendy and Peter,” he said. “We think often about ‘Peter Pan’ being a story about a boy who doesn’t grow up. I like to think this version is really more about growing up versus not growing up. It’s very poignant. It’s breathtakingly beautiful. I think, at the end, it contains all of the stuff you would expect it to contain.

At Crystal Lake South, they’re learning to fly and sword-fight. Marian Central’s students will see impossible dreams come true. And at Woodstock North, they’ll travel back to the early 1900s.

It’s high school musical time in McHenry County as students at the schools above, along with others throughout the area, bring their talents to area stages. They put in countless hours of rehearsal time through months of preparation to put on the best show they can.

It’s hard work on and off the stage, but it’s meaningful work they usually don’t forget, say those involved.

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