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York Drama highlights importance of imagination with 'Peter and the Starcatcher'

York Community High School drama students Jake Rehling as Smee (left) and Mike Bindeman as Black Stache will perform in "Peter and the Starcatcher" as part of one of the student casts.
York Community High School drama students Jake Rehling as Smee (left) and Mike Bindeman as Black Stache will perform in "Peter and the Starcatcher" as part of one of the student casts.

ELMHURST – York Community High School will bring a tale showcasing the value of imagination to the stage with performances Oct. 26 to 28 of "Peter and the Starcatcher," a prequel to the beloved story of Peter Pan.

Math teacher John Forsythe and performing arts teacher Rebecca Marianetti are co-directors of the play, which illustrates the origins of the characters of Peter Pan. The production has two 14-member casts performing on different days. It also has three stage managers and about 30 people working on the set, costumes and other items behind the scenes, Forsythe said.

Unlike many other performances of the play, York's production will include the entirety of the original score of music, including three full vocal pieces and underscoring for all scenes, he said. The underscoring of the play involves recorded music playing underneath the dialogue.

"It's the way it was meant to be done," Forsythe said.

The play also features many other theatrical elements such as people "levitating," fully choreographed musical numbers and the framing of scenes with ropes and planks that can "create" a sense of an ocean, the galleys of a ship and "all kinds of things," he said.

"It's full of magic," Forsythe said.

Though Forsythe has ideas of what should be part of the drama department's productions, students add their creativity to the shows, which makes him grow as a director, he said.

"No one can be this creative on their own. .... It's a collaborative effort," he said, praising the students' dedication.

Marianetti said she and Forsythe decided they wanted to bring the production to York after they saw the play performed in downtown Chicago.

The show explores feelings of wanting to return to childhood and the importance of never losing one's imagination and creativity, which often happens as people age, she said.

One of the lines of the play sticks out to her: "Pity the adult who lives in a fact-based world."

"Frankly, the world needs more creativity and passion for the arts," Marianetti said.

York seniors David Hansen and Evie Nudera are part of the show's production.

Hansen performs the role of Black Stache, the name Captain Hook went by before losing his hand.

He said the "over the top" outlaw character feels incomplete because there is no hero who can "match his prowess."

The role is challenging, yet rewarding, Hansen said, because every time he is on stage, he has to be at "100 percent" since the audience feeds off the performance of the role.

"This is a really hard show. I'm glad [Forsythe and Marianetti] thought we were up for it," he said.

Nudera, the head stage manager, said her role involves looking after the cast to ensure they rehearse and perform well. She also is in charge of the lighting.

A challenge – and a skill Nudera has learned – is how to get the actors, who see her as a friend and a peer, to listen to her, she said.

"It's really extraordinary to see how things develop from just a concept to this big show people pay money for," Nudera said.


If you go

WHAT: York Drama's "Peter and the Starcatcher"

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 26 and 27 and 2 p.m. Oct. 28

WHERE: York Community High School auditorium, 355 W. St. Charles Road, Elmhurst

COST: $10 for the public, free for York students


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