EAST WINDSOR: Take a fun trip to Neverland with middle school students

By Amy Batista, Special Writer
EAST WINDSOR – Theatergoers are invited come fly and sing along with Peter Pan and the Darling children as they go on an adventure off into Neverland as the Melvin H. Kreps Middle School presents its rendition of Disney’s “Peter Pan JR.” next week.
The play is based on the Disney film and J.M. Barrie’s famous play, Disney’s “Peter Pan JR,” the story of a boy who wouldn’t grow up and his amazing adventures in Neverland. When Peter Pan comes into the nursery of the Darling children, he brings to life all of the magic in the stories they’d grown to love. Wendy, Michael, and John are whisked away to Neverland with a little help from Tinkerbell and her pixie dust. In Neverland, the children meet the Lost Boys, Mermaids, Indians and even the infamous pirate, Captain Hook. Hook is out to get Peter, however, and the Darling children find themselves in the middle of great trouble, she said.
“Surely Peter will save them, right?” said Melvin H. Kreps eighth-grade language arts teacher and director Gabriella Salvemini in an email on Monday.
Ms. Salvemini said that the score is made up of favorite Disney songs and is a show the whole family can enjoy.
“The moral of the story of Peter Pan is to follow your heart, dream, and believe,” she said.
The main characters include Peter Pan played by Emma Behrens; Wendy Darling played by Tara Misiura; John Darling played by Kyle Bussone-Peterson; Michael Darling played by Jake Pandina; Tinkerbell played by Ragan McKenna; Tiger Lily played by Ana Chico; Captain Hook played by Jacob Eufemia; and Smee played by David Kasoff.
This is Ms. Salvemini’s first year directing the middle school musical.
“I’ve directed shows in the past for Rolling Hills Day Camp in Freehold and BCAA, a community theater based in Berkeley Township,” she said.
There are 117 students involved in the production between the cast and the crew.
“So much handwork has been put into this show by all members of the musical, as well as by our assistant director and choreographer, Alexa Katz, costume director, Elissa Graga, and set designer, Sandra Shafi,” she said.
Ms. Salvemini said that the cast has worked hard, especially the eighth-graders and leads, who have stepped up as leaders, assisting with the music and choreography.
“The parents have also been a huge help as we’ve transitioned into this year,” she said.
Ms. Salvemini said she has been getting to know students at MHK that she would have otherwise never encountered while putting together a show that they truly love.
“The play was selected by the musical advisers last school year,” she said. “We wanted to do a show with a great message and a fun story and Peter Pan had it all.”
Performances will be Wednesday, Jan. 27, Thursday, Jan. 28 and Friday, Jan. 29, at 7 p.m in the school auditorium. Tickets are $8. Students with I.D. and senior citizens are $5.

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