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‘Peter Pan’ prepares to soar at Millstone Township Middle School

MILLSTONE – Students at the Millstone Township Middle School are preparing to take flight for their production of the musical “Peter Pan.”

Based on the play “Peter and Wendy” by J.M. Barrie, the musical will be performed at the Millstone Performing Arts Center, 5 Dawson Court, Millstone Township, at 7 p.m. March 1-2. Tickets may be purchased at www.mpac.thundertix.com at $9 for adults and $8 for students and senior citizens, or in person for $10.

Prior to each performance, audience members will be able to interact with the cast in the cafeteria from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Admission is $5, which includes ice cream, two “Happy Thoughts” messages to cast members and a photo with the characters.

“Peter Pan” will be directed by LisaMarie Cappuzzo.

Taking flight in the title role is eighth-grader Nicole Rubino, who describes Peter as a leader who stands out.

“Peter’s very confident,” Nicole said. “He even sings a song about how amazing he is. Nobody is as confident as him, but I am confident at some things. He really stands out, so I try to make my personality as big as possible.”

Also taking on a leadership role is eighth-grader Mikaela Cook, who plays Tiger Lily.

“Tiger Lily is a leader figure and she’s very intense,” Mikaela said. “As the leader of her tribe, there are two sides to her. She has an important role in keeping the tribe in order and is serious when she needs to be, but she also has fun.”

Rounding out the leaders is seventh-grader Mark Cagnetta in the role of Captain Hook, the leader of the pirates and Peter’s nemesis.

“Captain Hook is a fun pirate who dances and has a band, but he’s also evil and wants to be the greatest villain of all time,” Mark said. “While I like to be light and funny, he wants to be serious. We’re both ambitious, I’m ambitious with my school work and he’s ambitious with his plans, but I’m definitely not as ambitious as he is.”

To become the musical’s villain, Mark described how he changes his mannerisms to act and sound like the antagonist.

“I have to be big and booming,” he said. “I deepen my voice and sound like a bad guy. I boss Smee around and it’s funny because it creates a domino effect of Smee then bossing the other pirates around.”

Smee, Hook’s sidekick, is portrayed by eighth-grader Aidan McGovern. Aidan noted that he played Smee in his first show at the performing arts center in third grade and is now playing Smee again in his final show at the performing arts center.

“Smee is the comic relief,” he said. “He’s not serious at all. He tries to be an evil pirate, but he’s not. He’s more like a grandma. While the other pirates are fighting, he’s sewing. And he wants to be like Hook, so he always obeys him. I have a good time playing Smee because he’s energetic and fun.”

Eighth-grader Sydney Miller plays one of the pirates and said, “The pirates are masculine and evil, but they’re also funny. We have outgoing attitudes, we’re always on the move and active, and we’re constantly falling over.”

Being masculine is a trait that eighth-grader Eric Iannaccone views his character Mr. Darling as wanting to be, but is not.

“Mr. Darling wants to be the big, strong father, but he’s more like a little kid,” Eric said. “He wants to do everything, but he can’t, like when he’s unable to tie his tie. He’s not independent and he’s emotional. I can be emotional too, but not as emotional as he gets.”

Mrs. Darling is played by eighth-grader Gabriella Biello, who considers her character to be similar to herself.

“Mrs. Darling is very loving and she understand everyone, including Mr. Darling and her three children,” Gabriella said. “Like her, I pamper everyone.”

Both Eric and Gabriella see the Darlings as a happy couple.

“They’re a happy couple with a happy and healthy family,” Eric said. “They are always joking with each other.”

“They are a dynamic duo,” Gabriella said. “They are funny, kind and sweet. But whereas Mr. Darling doesn’t believe Peter is coming to the house at night, Mrs. Darling knows he is.”

A motherly role in the Darling family is also assumed by Wendy, the oldest of the siblings, portrayed by eighth-grader Gianna Giacolona.

“Wendy is what you’d expect from a young girl becoming a woman,” Gianna said. “She’s very mature and very polite. As the oldest sibling, she’s a mother figure to her brothers and looks after them.”

As the middle sibling, John, seventh-grader Brayden Reyes views his character as a know-it-all.

“John’s very intelligent and believes he’s the smartest,” Brayden said. “He thinks he’s smarter than those who are older than him. I also correct people on a lot of stuff, but I’m a lot more polite than he is. He’s full of surprises, too, like when he does a flip.”

Sixth-grader Ethan Bailey plays Michael, the youngest of the siblings, whom Ethan describes as only wanting things done his way.

“Michael is around 5 and he’s very whiny,” Ethan said. “He usually complaining and wants to have things the way he wants it, like when he won’t take his medicine. He’s also playful and likes to be around his siblings, but he’s stubborn. I can be stubborn, too, and I like it when things go the way I want them to go, but I don’t complain as much as he does.”

Joining the Darling siblings when they travel to Neverland with Peter is Liza, the family’s housekeeper, whom sixth-grader Kasia Hanulewicz noted has a change in personality during the adventure.

“Eliza feels like an adult when she’s in the Darlings’ house and can’t do kids’ stuff, but when she comes to Neverland, she becomes more childlike,” Kasia said. “She has a strong personality and when she comes out of her shell, she brings that personality out. Like her, I feel I have to act to certain people’s standards when I’m around them. But when I’m around my friends, I feel more free to be myself.”

Taking on roles as members of the show’s crew are eighth-grader Tyler Kusher, seventh-grader C.J. Principe and seventh-grader Gavin Normand as stage managers, and sixth-grader Hamilton Appel as a stage manger in training.

“I’m super excited for this show because it was my favorite fairy tale as a kid,” Tyler said.

“This is bigger and better than the past shows we’ve done,” C.J. said. “With people flying, it’s going to be the biggest one yet.”

“It’s a classic story with a classic twist,” Gavin said. “People have been working really hard on this show and it’s great seeing the work has paid off.”

“It’s going to be really good,” Hamilton said. “I’ve been telling people to see it because it’s fun to watch. All of the actors are really good, the songs are really fun and you get to see Peter fly.”

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