Peter Pan flies into Dubai

Theatre, il­lu­sion, cir­cus and mind-blow­ing hi-tech acts com­bine to wow Dubai au­di­ences with the tale of Peter Pan, says Tessy Koshy

Friday - - EVENT - To buy tick­ets for the show, go to: http://plat­inum­list.net/peterpan

Poised on top of a fan­tas­tic moun­tain, dressed in a bright green cos­tume with painted elf-like ears, San­dor Sturbl looks down on a blue sea six me­tres be­low. His large brown kohl-lined eyes show no fear as he sur­veys the wa­ter.

There is a soft whoosh and San­dor, a 28-year-old Dutch­man who por­trays the role of Peter Pan in Peter Pan The Never End­ing Story, soars into the air like a bird. Twist­ing and twirling mid-air, he weaves magic as the dreamy-eyed au­di­ence watches his an­tics open-mouthed be­cause there are no har­nesses or wires to keep the boy from Neverland up in the air.

In the stage adap­ta­tion of Scot­tish nov­el­ist and play­wright JM Bar­rie’s clas­sic, San­dor plays a piv­otal role in trans­port­ing the au­di­ence to a mod­ern Neverland, thanks to a gi­ant diesel tur­bine en­gine that blows air at the speed of 250km per hour.

“The au­di­ence is al­ways bowled over by that stunt. It’s one of the many things they won’t for­get when they leave the show,” San­dor tells Fri­day ahead of the de­but in Dubai.

Af­ter hav­ing wowed spec­ta­tors in Bel­gium, the UK and the Nether­lands, the hi-tech fan­tasy ad­ven­ture will be staged from March 5 to 13 at the DubaiWorld Trade Cen­tre.

The show, de­scribed as an arena spec­ta­cle, brings to­gether a mix­ture of theatre, il­lu­sion, cir­cus and spe­cial ef­fects. More than 50 dancers, stunt­men, ac­ro­bats, ma­gi­cians and ac­tors from 10 coun­tries will per­form.

“It’s not a play, it’s not a mu­si­cal, it is an arena ad­ven­ture,” says San­dor.

“It’s like watch­ing a movie with the most amaz­ing stunts in 3D com­bined with the most mod­ern fly­ing tech­niques, spe­cial ef­fects and map­ping that will make au­di­ences be­lieve that they are in Neverland. Peter Pan fly­ing with­out wires will of course be the most stun­ning scene.”

At the heart of this elec­tri­fy­ing show is the time­less story of Peter Pan, a mis­chievous boy who can fly and who never grows up. He has ad­ven­tures on the small is­land of Neverland as the leader of his gang. Keep­ing him com­pany are the Dar­ling chil­dren – Wendy, Michael and John – along with the Lost Boys. The chil­dren play with mer­maids, fairies and Red In­di­ans – and meet the evil Cap­tain Hook.

“Each one of us would want to es­cape to a Neverland, a place with a touch of in­no­cence and a sense of won­der, and the show to­tally sup­ports that idea,” says 22-year-old Lilly-Jane Young, who plays Wendy.

For Lilly-Jane, the role was a dream come true. The Scot­tish ac­tress, who be­gan her the­atri­cal ca­reer at 15 at The Dance School of Scot­land, was in­tro­duced to the tale of Peter Pan by her grand­fa­ther at a young age.

“I felt I was Wendy and would walk around in my Wendy dress ev­ery day be­liev­ing I could fly and look­ing for the lit­tle boy from Neverland,” she says. “When I found out about this project I knew I had to be a part of it.”

Like San­dor, Lilly-Jane’s role also in­volves singing, dancing and

fly­ing on a har­ness. She says the show in­volves a lot of team­work and re­hearsals. “On a typ­i­cal show day we do lengthy warm-ups and al­ways test our tech­ni­cal stunts.”

Le­banese su­per­star Myr­iam Fares will en­act the role of Tinker Bell on the open­ing night in Dubai; in the rest of the shows her role will be played by Silvy de Bie, from Bel­gium.

To recre­ate the magic and won­der of the story, the pro­duc­ers of the show have used clas­si­cal scenery tech­niques in com­bi­na­tion with the most mod­ern pro­jec­tion and sound ef­fects to make it an un­for­get­table and be­liev­able fairy tale.

On the 25-me­tre-di­am­e­ter stage, 140 mov­ing fix­tures are used and the show is told on a gi­ant book­shelf. In the back­ground, walls, forests and build­ings dis­solve, dis­ap­pear and reap­pear. Wa­ter­falls cas­cade and rivers wind across the stage. There are shoot­ing stars, dreamy Lon­don rooftop scenes with Lost Boys bounc­ing and som­er­sault­ing through the air at great heights.

The show was cre­ated by leading Bel­gian pro­ducer Geert Al­laert and

the cre­ative team at Mu­sic Hall Bel­gium, a noted or­gan­iser of mu­si­cals. It is di­rected by Luc Petit, who col­lab­o­rated with Franco Dragone on Cirque du Soleil for 10 years and was the man who cre­ated the open­ing cer­e­mony at Euro 2000. Al­laert’s cred­its range from Cats and Les Misérables and the chore­og­ra­phy is by clas­si­cally trained ex-bal­let dancer Martino Muller from Switzer­land.

The show’s score has 16 tracks from artists such as Rob­bie Wil­liams and Rod Ste­wart, put to­gether by mu­si­cal di­rec­tor Matt Dunk­ley, who has to his credit the sound­track of Os­car­win­ning movie Moulin Rouge!.

The ac­tors tell the story through songs and dance as the only di­a­logue comes from the char­ac­ter Tinker Bell.

“The show is re­ally ex­haust­ing, I cover a lot of dis­tance run­ning up and down the stage,” says San­dor, who has three solo songs and two duets with Wendy. “Com­bine that with all the singing – it is re­ally de­mand­ing.”

In the so­los he sings An­gels by Rob­bie Wil­liams, Dreamer by Su­per­tramp and In the Shad­ows by The Ras­mus. A grad­u­ate in mu­sic theatre from the Fon­tys School of Fine and Per­form­ing Arts in Til­burg, the Nether­lands, San­dor re­alised his

‘The last thing you need is fear. Let’s be hon­est; what would a Peter Pan be with a fear of fly­ing?’

call­ing for stage at the age of 18. He has per­formed in sev­eral pro­duc­tions be­fore Peter Pan, such as We Will Rock You and Robin Hood. No doubt the most chal­leng­ing part about play­ing Peter Pan is fly­ing with­out a har­ness. San­dor says he had to re­hearse for years to get it right. But doesn’t he get any jit­ters be­fore the fi­nal act? “The last thing you need is fear. Let’s be hon­est; what would a Peter Pan be with a fear of fly­ing?” he asks non­cha­lantly.

The two-hour show is di­vided into two acts of one hour each and took two years in the mak­ing. Af­ter suc­cess­ful per­for­mances in the UK’s Wem­b­ley Arena and Scot­land’s The Hy­dro dur­ing Christ­mas 2013, Lilly-Jane is look­ing for­ward to Dubai.

“I can’t wait to see this beau­ti­ful city,” she says. “I have heard so many won­der­ful things.”

With such ac­com­plished ac­tors, spec­ta­tors are in for a never-seen­be­fore ex­pe­ri­ence that comes with a huge dash of magic.

Maybe Bar­rie had it right when he said: “All the world is made of faith and trust and pixie dust.”

It’s not a play, it’s not a mu­si­cal – it’s an arena ad­ven­ture!

No strings at­tached, not for Peter Pan

EVENT

A spec­ta­cle of song and dance that will take your breath away

Let us take you to Neverland, via the won­ders of mod­ern tech­nol­ogy

The story of Peter Pan is told through mu­sic and dance

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