Monday, March 31, 2008

Get Hooked!...

I'm very happy to announce that I have just been cast as Captain Hook/Mr. Darling in Peter Pan at the Player's Guild in Canton, Ohio. This will again be a very challenging role for me for a number of reasons, and I'm very excited because I'm really on board for this challenge. For starters, this will be my first villainous role, and it's a role I've always been interested in.

I have always had an affinity for the story of Peter Pan. I was one of those boys that would stare out the window and wait to be swept away to Neverland. I loved the idea of tricking pirates, swordfighting, and building forts. What more could a boy want, really? I specifically remember watching the film "Hook" when I was just starting to grow up, and I tried very hard to remember if I ever was a lost boy, or perhaps Pan himself, and somewhere along the way found myself in the real world.

The story of Peter Pan is the embodiment of so many things that are important to children, and boys especially. Escape from the torment of real life, father complexes, rejection of love and emotion and what that can do to a person. There are so many underlying psychological things about the story of Peter Pan that I think people latch onto subconsciously, and that is the reason it has such longevity. It's not about a boy who flies through an open window and takes children on adventures. It's about what happens when emotions are rejected and eventually forgotten. It's about the love/hate/fear/trust relationships children often have with their fathers. Although we all would love to be the carefree Peter Pan, we also see the sad, lonely character that he is. That alone tells us amazing things about ourselves. We knowingly idolize a character that gets to live a completely self indulging life at the expense of not experiencing any real love, or touch, or change. All of which can be wonderful things, but all of which carry the risk of immense pain.

So, if I were to be completely honest, my dream role would be Peter Pan. It's easy to identify with a self absorbed careless mess of fun. Also, who wouldn't love to fly? Unfortunately, I've surely surpassed my Pan-Playing age. In fact, the Players Guild has kept in line with the long standing theatre tradition of casting a woman as Peter. Fortunately, in our case, the heavy role will be on the very capable shoulders of the talented Amanda Medley. But there is another long standing theatre tradition for this show that is also being upheld, much to my satisfaction. This tradition being the dual casting of Captain Hook/Mr. Darling. I think that productions that are missing this element miss out on an entire layer of the story and magic of Peter Pan. I don't believe that children need every analogy to be as blindingly obvious as casting Hook and Mr. Darling with the same actor, but I think that in the case of Hook/Darling it just works. It's also very gratifying for the actor to be seen as a stern and almost cold father, then as a monster, and finally as a reformed man.

Personally, I have a lot to spill into this complex mix of characters. I have experienced many pieces of Hook/Mr. Darling in my youth, and am ripe for creative outlet. I am also reaching a point in my life where I am irreversibly a man. There's no being a boy again, and it's a fact that many men my age struggle with. I am also at an age where men start to look in the mirror, and more frighteningly, at their daily actions, and they see their fathers. It's a time where, more than ever, you make conscious decisions, based on the goods and the bads that you've experienced, that make you the kind of man you will be for the rest of your life. I'm very excited to sink my hook into these characters.

And of course, every monster has a weak side. They need to be in constant control, and henceforth often have human punching bags in their closest associations. Mr. Smee is the embodiment of this character type, and I am very pleased to be teaming with the ever-funny Ross Rhodes again as he takes on this role.

The last piece of our production that I will share at this time is on the topic of pirates, and the "color" of our show. Without giving away too much information, I will leave you with these impressions. Pirates are a dirty, nasty, murderous lot, and these are the pirates that you will see in our production of Peter Pan. And pirates don't live in pastel jungles, nor do they wash their clothes and polish their buttons. They live in a dark world of blues, greys, and blood red. This will not be Disney's Peter Pan.