The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati Flies High in Peter Pan JR.

“Can you really fly?”

“I’ll teach you.”

I don’t think there’s a moment more magical than this in any children’s book. The moment the Darling children “think happy thoughts” and lift off, floating weightlessly in their nursery and then through the starry skies toward Neverland. Doesn’t every kid wish they could fly?

Peter Pan is one of my favorite stories, and my kids love curling up beside me to read about the world of Neverland, the Lost Boys, the Darlings and even “bad guy” Captain Hook. So when I heard that Peter Pan JR. would be The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati’s 2017-18 season opener, I was super excited to experience this childhood favorite with my kids. Of course, I wondered about the logistics of putting on such a classic; particularly, Pan’s flying, the various animal characters and the magical presence of fairy Tinkerbell. But, as usual, my doubts were put to rest as we watched the performance, which was easily my favorite TCT show we’ve seen to date!

The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati flies high in Peter Pan JR. – and not just because the title character actually flies.

As always, the choreography and set design were fantastic – from the comforting Darling nursery to the wild world of the Lost Boys (and Brave Girls) to Captain Hook’s ship (complete with a ticking Alligator haunting him from scene to scene). And yes, Peter actually flies – but you’ll have to see that magic for yourself! I promise you’ll be impressed.

But these are theatrical devices you’d expect from any world-class production company; what makes The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati truly special are its actors and the spirit of each performance. Simply put, the actors in Peter Pan JR. were phenomenal.

The Darling children were sweet and earnest; the Lost Boys were a rag-tag group of sweet little boys; the Brave Girls’ strength and prowess was a fun (and welcome) addition to the play; and, last but not least, Nanna and the Crocodile were each given a lot of personality and really stole their respective scenes!

The eponymous role, played by Kelcey Steele, had my kids’ complete attention. Between his gynmastic feats, high flying, Cirque-de-Soleil moves, Captain Hook-slaying antics and childlike sass and attitude, I think all the kids in the audience could relate to Peter Pan. (And Steele’s singing voice is fantastic, by the way — you’ll love listening to his solos!)

As an adult, I found Captain Hook’s scenes to be the most enjoyable, as Bob Herzog’s interpretation of the classic villain was absolutely spot on. Herzog was an absolute delight to watch, and I found myself laughing out loud quite a few times during his scenes. His rendition of Hook’s Waltz was incredible, and his crew of pirates were perfectly choreographed around Hook and his hook (shout out to Smee’s and his never-ending hook polishing!). I’ve said it before, but Bob Herzog is truly a force to be reckoned with on stage.

Peter Pan JR. is a celebration of childlike awe and wonder, presented by a group of talented performers who truly embody this spirit. In Peter Pan JR., the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati reminds us that childhood is something to be relished and not rushed – and thankfully, as parents, we get a second chance at childhood with our own children. And that’s something that’s truly magical.

Peter Pan JR. has four remaining performances: Fri., Oct. 27 at 7:30 pm, Sat., Oct. 28 at 2 pm and 5 pm and Sun., Oct. 29 at 2 pm. The show runs just over an hour and is ideal for kids 4 and up – and definitely a performance you won’t want to miss! Tickets are available through the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati’s website here.

All Peter Pan production photos courtesy of TCT Cincinnati/Mikki Schaffner Photography

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