A Look at The Original Peter Pan, by Artistic Director Julian Wiles

Founder and Producing Artistic Director Julian Wiles

The story is told in my family that after seeing Mary Martin as Peter Pan in the musical, Peter Pan (based loosely on the original version we are presenting tonight), I climbed up on a chest of drawers and dove off.  I crashed.  Apparently, I was not alone.  When the show opened in London in 1904, so many children were trying to fly, the London Ambulance Service asked Mr. Barrie to help stop the broken arms resulting from his play.  Barrie responded by having Peter explain that you must be sprinkled with magic fairy dust before you can fly.

I’ve been looking for some magic fairy dust ever since.  I suppose we all have.  Part of the allure of Peter Pan is the chance to escape to a magical world where we never have to grow up.  If it were that simple, Peter Pan would be just another fairy story, but it is more.  Much more.

Barrie not only shows us the enchantments of Neverland, but he always wants us to see the price to be paid for never growing up—if we never grow up, we can never know a mother’s love,  never be loved and never love ourselves.  Peter is prepared to pay this price.  Wendy is not.

This is but one of the dilemmas the play poses—some have even dubbed it the Hamlet of children’s literature.  They may well be right.  Each time I have re-read it, worked on the scenery, traveled to attend productions in Kentucky and Canada, and even when I read it to my children at bedtime when they were little, I discovered in the story something new and rich and wondrous.  Even after working on the play for more than a year, months of set construction, weeks and weeks of rehearsals, the wonder I feel for this play is still as magical as if someone had given me a handful of magic fairy dust and told me I could fly.

Maybe I can.  Maybe we all can.


Meet Peter Pan

Guest Actor Jordan Ellis

Where did you grow up?  Were there any activities you did as a child that led to your passion for theatre and the arts?  I grew up in a small town called Shelby, NC.  I was always a rambunctious child, at all times wanting the most attention I could get.  I became involved with theatre, either because my mother was tired of hearing me talk, or she knew I could channel my energy into a character on stage.  I think it was a little bit of both.  So, in 1993 my mom enrolled me into Shelby High School Summer Workshop theatre where I landed the role of Avery in Charlotte’s Web.  My passion for theatre began then.  This was actually a high caliber of training for such a small town, and I was able to study with the same teachers from 1993, through middle school, and until I left Shelby High in 2004.  I will be forever indebted to them for giving me the spark, the foundation, the passion, and most of all the respect for collaboration for theatre and the arts.

Where did you study theatre?  I went to Catawba College in Salisbury, NC, where I received a BA in Musical Theatre and a minor in Dance.

Where have you worked previously?  What are some of your favorite roles?  I have previously worked with The Manhattan Concert Series at Carnegie Hall in NY, NY;   Project Rushmore in NY, NY;  Midtown Arts Center in Fort Collins, CO;  Central Piedmont in Charlotte, NC;  Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre in Winchester, VA;  and Pineville Dinner Theatre in Pineville, NC.  Some of my favorite roles include Huck Finn in Big River, Tobias in Sweeney Todd, Frankie Epps in Parade, Bobby Strong in Urinetown, Slim in Cowboy Mouth, Buff in Suburbia and Jack in The Weir.

What are you most looking forward to playing the role of Peter Pan?  The flying of course!  Also, I’m excited to be able to act like a kid again!  So much fun!  I think the main challenge has been to listen and think like a kid again though.  Acting is always about listening and thinking.  Being naïve, vulnerable, and always having a kid’s outlook on life changes these things drastically.  It’s much harder than you think.

Where are you living now?  After traveling around the country doing theatre for a year, I now call New York home.  I moved to New York City to get better opportunities as an actor.  It’s very cut throat there, but it has so much to teach you.  New York and I have a love-hate relationship.  However, I’ve learned so much in my short tenure there.  I can’t help but to love it more than I hate it.  If you give to the city, it will always give back to you.  It’s the center of the universe, and I cannot wait to see what else it has in store for me!

What do you do in your spare time?  In my spare time I hangout with my niece Madison.  Also, I hang with friends and keep in touch with old friends.  I like to read, workout, cook, do random improv, sing and see plays.  I’m a diehard Atlanta Braves, Carolina Panthers, and Carolina Tar heel fan!  Let’s hope the Panthers look better this season (if there is one).