[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. [Olivia Perovic, 18, and Kris Slimke, 14, discuss costumes with costume designer Laura Ryan and play director Ben Stoner during a rehearsal for "Peter Pan" at Crystal Lake South.]
“There’s all the flying, all the spectacle and Neverland. Everything you want in ‘Peter Pan’ is there, but I think the story is a little more authentic, and I also think the musical score is stunning," Stoner said [Casey Wells as the Prince in “Cinderella,” opening Feb. 9 at Marian Central High School in Woodstock.]
With “Cinderella,” opening Feb. 9 at Marian Central Catholic High School, students not only will take on a classic, they’ll pay tribute to retiring music teacher Tom Rome. “Cinderella” was the first musical Rome conducted in 1992, and it is the production he wanted to be his last.
“This is his favorite,” said Christi DeWispelaere, who is co-directing the production with Mary Jo Keogh.
With a cast of 85, those involved are recruiting Marian alumni involved with the school’s past productions of “Cinderella,” including a 2005 show, to come to this year’s musical to wish Rome a happy retirement.
From “Cinderella” to “Our Town,” opening Feb. 9 at Woodstock North High School, to “Godspell,” coming March 8 to Marengo High School, there are plenty of shows to see. Find our complete roundup of area theater productions below. [Matt Blalock as the Stage Manager for "Our Town," opening Feb. 9 at Woodstock North High School.]
To have your production listed, visit PlanitNorthwest.com.
“CINDERELLA,” 7 p.m. Feb. 9, 5 p.m. Feb. 10 and 2 p.m. Feb. 11, Marian Central Catholic High School, 1001 McHenry Ave., Woodstock. Marian Central Catholic High School students will present their rendition of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella.” Dress up and bring a camera for a photo op with your favorite character. Tickets: $10 adults, $5 seniors and students available at the door. Tickets and information: 815-338-4220 or www.marian.com.
“OUR TOWN,” Feb. 9-17, Woodstock North High School Performing Arts Center, 3000 Raffel Road, Woodstock. Presented by Woodstock North High School Theatre. The play tells the story of the fictional American small town of Grover’s Corners between 1901 and 1913 through the everyday lives of its citizens. There also will be a silent auction at all performances. Schedule: 7 p.m. Feb. 9-10 and 16 and 2 and 7 p.m. Feb. 17. Tickets: $10 adults, $5 seniors and students. Tickets are available at the door. Tickets and information: 815-334-2127 or www.seatyourself.biz/woodstocknorth.
WSREP PRESENTS “LOVE LETTERS,” 8 p.m. Feb. 9 and Feb. 10 and 3 p.m. Feb. 11, Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake. Presented by Williams Street Repertory with performances by Shannon Mayhall and Frank Gaughan. Tickets: $15. Tickets and information: 815-356-9212 or www.wsrep.org.
“MISS EXPANDING UNIVERSE,” 7 to 10 p.m. Feb. 12 (rescheduled from Jan. 8), Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake. A comedic family drama presented by WSRep LAB Series about 17-year-old Amber who runs away to Chicago with no job, no money and no plans. She’s shown up at the apartment of her uncle, David, a struggling writer and recovering alcoholic stuck in an unfulfilling job, upending his solitary existence. Over the next few days, they engage in a battle of wills about her future and why she ran away from home. Free admission. Information: 815-356-9212, www.rauecenter.org or www.wsrep.org. [Aaron Fater, 16, (left) and Jake Modrzejewski, 14, work together to help lift a castmate into the air during rehearsal for "Peter Pan" at Crystal Lake South High.]
“PETER PAN: A MUSICAL ADVENTURE,” Feb. 16-24, Crystal Lake South High School, 1200 McHenry Ave., Crystal Lake. A Crystal Lake South High School musical adaptation of the book by Willis Hall. Featuring sword fighting, flying, beautiful scenery, a high-tech fairy and more. Schedule: 7 p.m. Feb. 16-17, 22-24; and 1 p.m. Feb. 17 and 24. Tickets: $10 all seats. CLS activity passes accepted at the door. Tickets and information: 815-893-5199 or www.d155.org/cls.
“DINO-LIGHT,” 7 p.m. Feb. 23, Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St. Presented by Lightwire Theatre. Formerly known as Darwin the Dinosaur, “Dino-Light” was the recipient of the Jim Henson Foundation Grant. A famous scientist with magic powers brings a friendly dinosaur to life. Tickets start at $20. Student tickets cost $6 (call Box Office at 815-356-9212). Tickets and information: www.rauecenter.org or 815-356-9212.
“IN THE HEIGHTS,” March 1-10, Prairie Ridge High School, 6000 Dvorak Drive, Crystal Lake. Presented by Prairie Ridge High School Theater Department, a Lin-Manuel Miranda production. Schedule: 7 p.m. March 2-3 and 8-9 and 1 and 7 p.m. March 10. There will be a free senior citizen performance at 1:30 p.m. March 1. For reservations, call 815-893-5888. Tickets: $10. Tickets and information: www.d155.org.
“DISNEY’S THE LITTLE MERMAID,” March 2-18, Woodstock Opera House, 121 W. Van Buren St., Woodstock. Musical presented by TownSquare Players. Based on one of Hans Christian Andersen’s most beloved stories and the classic animated film, “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” is a hauntingly beautiful love story for the ages. Schedule: 8 p.m. March 2, 9-10, 16-17; 2 p.m. March 3-4, 10-11, 17-18. Tickets: $25 A Seating, $20 B Seating, $15 C Seating. Tickets and information: 815-338-5300 or www.woodstockoperahouse.com. [Sydney Yokas, 15, waits to have her costume checked during a rehearsal for Crystal Lake South's rendition of "Peter Pan."
“DISNEY’S THE LITTLE MERMAID,” 7 p.m. March 2-3, 2 p.m. March 4, Richmond Burton Community High School, 8311 Route 31, Richmond. Adapted from Disney’s 2008 Broadway production. Ticket price information not yet available. Information: www.rbchs.com.
“GODSPELL,” March 8-10, Marengo Community High School, 110 Franks Road, Marengo. “Godspell” was the first major musical theater offering from three-time Grammy and Academy Award-winner Stephen Schwartz (“Wicked,” “Pippin,” “Children of Eden”). Led by the international hit, “Day by Day,” it features a parade of songs, including “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord,” “Learn Your Lessons Well,” “All for the Best,” “All Good Gifts,” “Turn Back, O Man” and “By My Side.” Schedule: 7 p.m. March 8, 2 and 7 p.m. March 9 and 7 p.m. March 10. Tickets: $8 students, $10 adults. Tickets and information: http://mchs.booktix.com.
“SEUSSICAL,” March 9-17, Cary-Grove High School, 2208 Three Oaks Road, Cary. A musical extravaganza by Tony winners Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, who have brought to life favorite Dr. Seuss characters, including Horton the Elephant, The Cat in the Hat, Gertrude McFuzz, Lazy Mayzie and a little boy with a big imagination – Jojo. Schedule: 7:30 p.m. March 9-10, 2 p.m. March 11, 7 p.m. March 15, 7:30 p.m. March 16 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. March 17. Tickets go on sale Feb. 23. Ticket price information not yet available. Tickets and information: www.carygrovechoirs.org.
THE IRISH COMEDY TOUR, 8 p.m. March 10, Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake. The Irish Comedy Tour takes the party atmosphere of a Dublin pub and combines it with a boisterous band of hooligans. The comedians, whose ancestors hail from the Emerald Isle, include Detroit native Derek Richards, Boston-born Mike McCarthy, Nova Scotia’s Damon Leibert and, from Inchicore, a suburb of Dublin, Ireland, Derick Keane. Rated PG-13. Tickets: $25-$35. Tickets and information: www.rauecenter.org. [Daniel Marable, 15, learns the ropes of flying on stage during a rehearsal for "Peter Pan" at Crystal Lake Souh High School.]
“THE SOUND OF MUSIC,” 7 p.m. March 16-17 and 3 p.m. March 18, Harvard High School, 1103 N. Jefferson St., Harvard. Tickets: $8 adults, $6 seniors and students. Information: http://highschool.cusd50.org.
“MONTY PYTHON’S SPAMALOT,” April 6-22, Woodstock Opera House, 121 W. Van Buren St., Woodstock. A new musical presented by Woodstock Musical Theatre Company lovingly ripped off from the motion picture “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” “Spamalot” tells the legendary tale of King Arthur’s quest to find the Holy Grail. Schedule: 8 p.m. April 6-7, 13-14, 20-21; 2 p.m. April 8, 15 & 22. Tickets: $24 adults, $21 seniors and students. Tickets and information: 815-338-5300 or www.woodstockoperahouse.com.
“THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME,” April 6-14, McHenry High School West Campus, 4716 W. Crystal Lake Road, McHenry. Schedule: 7 p.m. April 6-7, 2 and 7 p.m. April 8 and 7 p.m. April 13-14. Details yet to be announced. Information: www.dist156.org.
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.