When Peter Pan flies to Neverland at Chicago
Tribune Freedom Center North starting in April, he'll be surrounded
by 400 square feet of virtual London. With contemporary technology,
the classic play is performed in a 1,300-seat theater tent where
audience members are surrounded by 360-degree projected movies
during the live performance.
"The beauty of the CGI (computer-generated imagery) is it
augments the story. It complements what's onstage," says Robert
Butters, producer. "In the design, the creative team was trying not
to overpower the story by making it a film. But where it has the
most impact is on the flight to Neverland, which is best told
through the interaction of flying and the backdrop of
To bring Peter Pan to Chicago, a traveling crew of about
70 people will arrive in the city about 10 days before the
performance and begin erecting the theater tent. Threesixty°, the
company producing the play, handles everything from the set to the
concession areas available during the performances. In addition to
the stage and the digital imagery, the crew also supplies the
puppets used in the performance, including a giant crocodile manned
by two people.
"We have this large crocodile that's been made out of
items you'd find in a nursery, like coat hangers. It's about 20
feet long. It's pretty dramatic," says Butters, who has four young
children. Although the performance is recommended for children 5
and older, he says, younger children will definitely enjoy the
show. "My 3-year-old is now a Peter Pan fanatic," he says. "Even at
that younger age, they are mesmerized because there's so much going
Children also will enjoy the Neverland Tours conducted 60
minutes before most shows, which let visitors look behind the
scenes at how the show is created.
"If they're interested in theater, it gives them a little
bit more context to what's done on-stage," Butters says.
Liz DeCarlo is the former senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.
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