East preview: 'Peter Pan' takes flight at Derry Area

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Derry Area High School's musical director, Cindy Baltzer, got one thing out of the way up front.

"We're going to fly," she said of the school's production of "Peter Pan."

"Peter Pan"
  • Where: Derry Area High School
  • When: 7:30 p.m. today, tomorrow and Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
  • Tickets: $8. Call 724-694-2248.

Based on the beloved stage play by J.M. Barrie, this musical follows the Darling children as they take a trip to Wonderland with the boy who won't grow up, only to encounter pirates, Indians and a ticking crocodile.

Ms. Baltzer said she's hired professional flying effects company ZFX to handle the rigging required. ZFX handled Cathy Rigby's equipment when she played the title role.

Ms. Baltzer said the show has been a favorite of hers since her youth, when she saw Mary Martin, who originated the musical role of Peter Pan, perform on Broadway.

"I even wrote her a letter," Ms. Baltzer said.

But love for the show and high-tech gadgets aside, she said, the most important thing about this production of "Pan" is she has some "really gifted students." There are 80 students in the cast, with about 120 involved overall.

Kasey Zemba, the understudy for the role of Millie in Derry's production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie" last year, plays Peter Pan.

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"She has a phenomenal voice," said Ms. Baltzer, adding that she accompanied Kasey to Atlanta last summer when she auditioned for the television show "American Idol."

Esther Hull plays Wendy and Kaylee Porembka plays Liza.

In Wonderland, Micah Yarger is Captain Hook, Luke Niezelski is Smee and Tina Heiple is Tiger Lily.

Ms. Baltzer pointed out that three Derry middle school pupils appear in "Pan," along with an elementary school student. Noah Alter plays John, and Robbie LaVelle and Zane Klimchock play two of the Lost Boys. Third-grader Kyle Dimatteo plays Michael.

Ms. Baltzer said audiences should be prepared for an exciting production. She has added dance and visual elements to several songs, including the "Indian" number, "Ugg-a-Wugg," in which the cast plays conga drums and dances with drumsticks.

Kate Luce Angell is a freelance writer.


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