Review: Peter Pan (Bros Do Prose)

| November 26, 2018

Breon Arzell and Ella Raymont star in Bros do Prose Peter Pan, Mercury Theater Chicago    

  

  

Peter Pan   
   
Written by Bros Do Prose
   from book by J.M. Barrie    
Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport (map)
thru Dec 23  |  tix: $20  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     


    
  

Boisterous and sweet

  

Breon Arzell and Ella Raymont star in Bros do Prose Peter Pan, Photo by Christian Libonati

    
Bros Do Prose presents
    
Peter Pan

Review by Lauren Emily Whalen

No question about it: Peter Pan has staying power.

The J.M. Barrie classic has been adapted countless times, in every imaginable medium, since its first premiere in 1904. Though certain parts of the original story haven’t aged well – Tiger Lily and her band of “Indians” among them – Peter Pan endures in many forms. The adventures of a boy who refuses to grow up are both enchanting to children who fear the adult world of stress, bills and vague responsibilities, and appealing to adults who long for a simpler, more innocent time in their lives. Award-winning creative theater troupe Breon Arzell and Ella Raymont star in Bros do Prose Peter Pan, Mercury Theater ChicagoBros do Prose brings its unique two-hander version of Peter Pan to the Mercury Theater stage this holiday season, and the results are energetic and simply delightful.

Bros do Prose, who have previously adapted Robin Hood for young audiences, boasts a small but powerful ensemble whose training ranges from iO long-form to the Paris movement school of Jacques Lecoq. Comedy, music and dance stylings are on full display as performers Breon Arzell and Ella Raymont tell the story of Peter, Wendy, Hook and Tinkerbell during a neighborhood block party. (The simple set design includes Pan-themed billboards for J.M. Barrie’s bakery, a picnic table festooned with soda bottles and Goldfish cracker boxes, and a laptop DJ station.) Raymont and Arzell play every single character in the story, using basic costumes and props as well as their own bodies. The ever-energetic duet illustrates the timeless classic with a few updates (Tiger Lily is referred to as a “native”, and a newly-empowered Wendy), bringing home the message that, in the end, everyone has to grow up, and sometimes getting older is the biggest adventure of all.

Breon Arzell and Ella Raymont star in Bros do Prose Peter Pan at Mercury Theater ChicagoElla Raymont stars in Bros do Pros Peter Pan, Mercury Theater Chicago Ella Raymont and Breon Arzell star in Bros do Prose Peter Pan at Mercury Theater ChicagoElla Raymont and Breon Arzell star in Bros do Prose Peter Pan, Mercury Theater Chicago

Director and Bros do Prose founding member Christian Libonati balances the gravity of the Peter Pan story while maintaining its inherent sense of fun that’s pleasing to audiences of all ages. Libonati, Arzell and Raymont add quirky, memorable touches to distinguish their Peter Pan from others: Tinker Bell speaks French, Michael Darling is represented by a backpack with a teddy bear on it, and the poisoned cake Captain Hook delivers to the Lost Boys remains untouched because Tootles is allergic to peanut butter. The onstage Bros are adept at getting the audience to clap their hands and stand up and dance, enthusiastically encouraging them to be a part of the fun without getting too screechy or pushy (common traps for children’s theater). The atmosphere does indeed feel like a block party: the trappings are minimal, the energy pure and, even through a poignant ending during which Wendy does indeed grow up, the optimism endless.

Arzell and Raymont are a dream team, working together to push a wheeled platform and juggle an endless supply of small props (a glove of superhero hand puppets to represent the Lost Boys was my personal favorite) while establishing distinctive characters. Raymont’s voice work is impeccable and her Wendy an adventurer at heart, a lover of stories and swordplay. Arzell portrays both Peter and Hook, his hero charismatic but immature and his villain incredibly nuanced for a family adaptation of Barrie’s story. Very few children’s shows are truly enjoyable for everyone, but Bros do Prose’s Peter Pan is a notable exception. This sunny, warm-hearted adaptation is proof that when it comes to heartwarming and effective live theater, big budgets are never necessary.

  
Rating: ★★★
  

Peter Pan continues through December 23rd at Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport (map), with performances Saturdays and Sundays at 11am.  Tickets are $20, and are available by phone (773-325-1700), or online through MercuryTheaterChicago.com (check for availability of half-price tickets). More information at BrosDoProse.com(Running time: 1 hour without intermission)

  Ella Raymont and Breon Arzell star in Bros do Prose Peter Pan at Mercury Theater

Photos by Les Rorick and Christian Libonati


  

artists

cast

Breon Arzell, Ella Raymont

Understudies: Danny Gadaj, Laura Nelson

behind the scenes

Christian Libonati (director, photos), Brad Caleb Lee (scenic design), Michael Huey (composer, sound design), Ilana Breitman (costume design), Corinne Curtis Broadbent (dance choreographer), Dan Renkin (fight choreographer), Les Rorick (photos)

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Category: 2018 Reviews, Adaptation, Bros Do Prose, Children's Theatre, Lauren Emily Whalen, Mercury Theater, Video, YouTube

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