On March 11th and 12th, the Cherokee High School theater program retold the infamous story of Peter Pan in a completely new way. Originally written by Kimberly Belflower, the play follows Wendy Darling’s point of view of life after she came back home from Neverland. CHS drama director, Dr. Burn, describes the show as moody and dreary, for Wendy is battling depression.
Lost Girl is a junior/senior production. Meaning only 11th and 12th graders could audition, but some freshmen and sophomores pitched in to help fill empty roles. The Cherokee Players miraculously put this show together in only six rehearsals. Despite the time crunch, the play was spectacular: a truly gritty representation of mental health and emotional abuse.
Student director, Oliver Mullen, is in charge of backstage production, such as organizing props and offering the performers helpful suggestions. During the play he sits backstage with a mic listening to the play, making sure everything runs smoothly.
It’s been a roller-coaster of a show, but I’m proud of it.Oliver Mullen
Also hard at work, the crew. Hidden in the booth, lighting technician, Katelyn Dockery and sound technicians, Taylor Dockery and Evan Walters are the backbone of the production. They are in charge of the complicated control boards, setting the mood for the scenes, and timing everything perfectly.
Note: Bolded lines are direct quotes from the play.
Time does not run chronologically in this play, and the setting is not constant. The star of the show playing Wendy Darling is Olivia Langston. Considering the limited amount of time to learn the lines, and the fact she was in every scene, her performance was outstanding…truly an inspiration to all the underclassman and future leads of CHS drama programs.
It was really tough trying to get to know every single motivation behind each word. With a script like this, every single word has meaning, and every single word has more than one. So, learning to understand each bit of the script and all of its layers was a challenge, but a great experience.Olivia Langston
The play begins with a moment in Neverland. Two kids, Wendy and Peter, never imagining anything but being together. Wendy offers Peter her kiss, but Peter is afraid it is a gift she will eventually take back. He storms off, but before she can leave, he told her to wait for him.
So she did.
After Peter abandoned her, Wendy lost all hope, allowing herself only eight minutes a day to think about him. Riley Watkins plays Wendy’s mother and does a phenomenal job doing so. The audience can clearly see the struggling mother wishing her daughter could be happy. Watkins projects their voice with agony, so the audience can feel how badly the mother is hurting.
It’s fine to be sad, but it’s not fine to always be sad.
When Wendy first came home, she was interviewed by the detective (Brittany Pack), who asks Wendy how long she thinks she was gone. Wendy confidently says a year and a half-only to find out she was actually missing for nine days. The detective urges Wendy to give her as much information as possible because three other girls disappeared just like her.
These three girls played by Jenelle Fuller, Lily Richard and Sarah Liebert appear throughout the play to describe their memories with Peter. They are the only ones who know what Wendy went through, for they were her once.
The girls speak in fragments of sentences joined together for a powerful effect. Fuller, Richard, and Liebert did a phenomenal job bridging their lines together fluently.
There was a lot of struggles, [to coordinate lines] but we pulled together in the end. It was definitely a ride.Lily Richard
There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who shine and those who notice. He shined. I noticed.
Wendy’s therapist (Rebecca Kraft) notices Wendy is struggling to move on, so she urges her to meet 40 new people. Wendy protests but tries to make connections with others to get her mind off Peter. Nothing works.
Until she meets a boy (Matthew Hughes). Wendy captures his heart, and he likes her for who she is. Although, when they kiss, the boy feels as if Wendy isn’t there. He says it’s almost like she is kissing someone else far away. He leaves Wendy to ponder over what is blocking her from being happy.
Wendy’s doctor (Katie Slanina) suggests its time to stop seeing a pediatric doctor because Wendy is no longer a child. It seems as if Wendy is stagnate, unwilling to grow up. Her depression has only slightly improved since her return. Eventually, she comes to the conclusion that the doctor’s tools will never work, and the only way to get better is to find Peter.
Back at the nursery Wendy is hanging out with her friends who we later find out are the lost boys she brought back with her from Neverland (Sol Richard, Emmanuel Mwangi, Wyatt Darnell, Jae Kitchens). It’s apparent the boys love Wendy even though she is going though a hard time and often unleashes her anger onto them. They want Wendy to get better, so they agree to help her make fliers to find Peter. However, she feels like she can’t move on because Peter has her kiss.
He kissed me. He didn’t give me his kiss.
One of the lost boys, Slighty (Jae Kitchens) offers Wendy fireflies to use as fairy-like pixy dust. Slighty has an obvious crush on Wendy; he describes her as so wonderful he sometimes feels like he could drown. While Slighty confesses his love, Wendy refuses to acknowledge him, for she cannot take her thoughts off of Peter.
In a desperate effort to find Peter, Wendy returns to the sheriff who first interrogated her. She advises Wendy to begin with the letters.
In the next scene Wendy is surrounded by three lost girls (Emma Barns, Brook Kelly, Lily Morgan): other victims of Peter’s tricks. They tell Wendy about how at first they wrote letters to encourage Peter to never forget them, but eventually they sent letters as a goodbye. The girls express how as time went by, they came to terms with what happened.
I am not a victim.
A journalist, Nina (Ashley Severson), approaches Wendy asking for an interview, but Wendy is reluctant. She doesn’t agree to it until Nina mentions the lost boys have already been interviewed. Nina tells Wendy they are the same age and that she remembers seeing her on the news as a little girl. Frightened, knowing Wendy’s story could have easily been hers, Nina followed the story.
Nina discloses to Wendy that Peter left Neverland shortly after she did, and grew up.
But if I stop being sad, I stop remembering him.
The lost boys confront Wendy, stating it’s in their best interest to stop hanging out with her. They express they feel she is holding them back and how they need to be apart to grow up. Slighty confronts her alone; he still wants her in his life. He tells her this is better than Neverland. They kiss, and he knows she feels it.
Beginning to realize she can’t keep waiting, Wendy is surprised when Peter sneaks into her house. All grown up, Peter reveals he never forgot her, but when Wendy asks him to give her kiss back, he claims it is gone. He says he used it on too many other people. So, Wendy asks for a new one to give to someone else.
This play is different than the story we heard as kids. It is deep and dreary, but it still has the magic of the original. However, instead of pixy dust and fairies, the magic is found in redemption and overcoming hardships.
CHS is thankful for Dr. Burn’s leadership and the role she plays in these talented students’ lives; the show could not be done without her. Congratulations to our Cherokee Players for another amazing production!