Some people think that if you subtract the songs from Peter Pan
onstage, you've got very little left. But the J.M. Barrie yarn still has the power to mesmerize, especially when it's directed by someone as gifted and inspired as Matthew Earnest. Following his stark and lovely staging of Our Town
the summer before, his production of Peter Pan
was simply galvanizing. From a startling opening visual, as a young man emerged from a wash bucket sitting on the stage floor, Earnest kept the sense of childlike amazement afloat by using his company of actors as light-switch holders, mermaids, and anything else he required. Employing crudely constructed, tree-house-ready platforms, Earnest managed to raise the audience's eyebrows every couple of minutes -- no small feat when the tale is so well told. Clearly, Earnest refused to grow up, and it's paying dividends -- for us.