Riccarton Bush (outside Riccarton House), Christchurch

04/02/2015 - 22/02/2015

Production Details

Excitement is in the air! 

Peter Pan bursts into life at Riccarton House on 4 February in a chaotic, cheeky and charming production in The Anthony Harper Summer Theatre Season. 

The show is part of Christchurch City Council’s SummerTimes programme and runs until 22 February.

Ben Ashby from Christchurch Boys’ High School plays Peter Pan and Kate Hellings from St Margaret’s College plays Wendy.

Tinker Bell, Captain Hook and the Lost Boys are played by other members of The Court Youth Company alongside three professional actors – Vanessa Kumar who finished her professional actor’s training at Toi Whakaari in Wellington last year; Andrew Ford, a former Christchurch resident now based in Auckland; and Derek Flores, a Canadian improvisational actor who has made his home in Christchurch.

The Court Youth Company is selected from the top talent in the city amongst 17-21 year olds and have worked with and received training at The Court over the last year.

Behind the scenes are more professionals including a stage manager, set designer and builder, costume designer and an artistic director so the show promises to be a high-quality production.

Council Events Production Team Manager Chloe Dear says the young actors have devised this exuberant version of the Peter Pan story. It started with a workshop prior to Christmas then three weeks rehearsing this year.

Improvisation was used in developing the play so the actors could engage with the themes of the story. 

“The performances are unique because they don’t have a written script. It will be great to see these talented young actors in front of an audience,” Ms Dear says.

The show is outside Riccarton House on Wednesday to Sunday at 7pm with an additional 2pm show on weekends and Waitangi Day.

This is a free event, so bring along your picnic chair or blanket and settle in with the boy who would not grow up, Tinker Bell, Captain Hook and the Lost Boys.

Set up a chair or rug on the lawn at Riccarton House and settle in with the boy who would not grow up, for a chaotic, cheeky and charming version of this favourite story.

Full of the joys and wonderment of childhood, sprinkled with the dark fears and bittersweet moments that inhabit our youth, Peter Pan will delight the immortal child in all of us.

4 – 22 February
Wednesday to Sunday 7pm
Weekends and Waitangi Day 2pm and 7pm
No performances Monday and Tuesday
Riccarton Bush (outside Riccarton House)

Street parking is available or limited car parking at the Riccarton Bush car park. Please be aware of Saturday markets and allow yourself time so you can truly enjoy the peace and tranquillity of this location. 

Ben Ashby: Peter Pan
Derek Flores: Mr Darling, Captain Hook
Vanessa Kumar: Mrs Darling, Mermaid, Indian Chief, Pirate
Kate Hellings: Wendy
Rheanna Walsh: Michael, Mermaid
Andrew Ford: Toodles, Smee, Mermaid
Vincent Andrew-Scammell: Tinkerbell, Indian, Pirate
Tara Erenskjold: Nana, Tiger Lily, Lost boy, Pirate
Ellen Jones-Poole: John, Indian, Pirate

Director: Daniel Pengelly
Costume Design: Aimee Reed
Set Designer & Builder: Oliver Morse
Stage Manager: Alice Pardoe
Operator: Alexandra Le Cocq
Production Manager: Mandy Perry

1h 40m incl.interval; Wed-Sun only

High good spirits; no dull moments

Review by Lindsay Clark 05th Feb 2015

Albeit not quite delivering on the promotional material (“the joys and wonderment of childhood, sprinkled with the dark fears and bitter-sweet moments that inhabit our youth”), this early evening romp in the glorious park around Riccarton House is probably all the better for that. It is a zippy, no-frills romp through plum situations from the familiar story, given a fresh face by a troupe of highly energised young actors and a sprinkle of established professionals. 

Its roots in improvised theatre link happily to at least one aspect of the ensemble intent, explained to us at the outset. The playful encounter will be about following dreams, maternal love and the power of the imagination. In the latter respect, the event is richly endowed. Director Pengelly is in his element and the cast of nine are engagingly immediate in their business. 

An unpretentious and functional stage from Oliver Morse provides clear sight lines and effective levels to cope with the indoor/outdoor locations required by the adventurous Darling children and the boy from Never Never Land. Here too are arranged the myriad small props and plentiful quick-change costumes from Aimee Reed. The action is unrelenting and often all nine actors are diving for a quick change from Lost Boys to pirates to Indians and so forth, all accomplished at high speed, with the challenge providing half the fun. Clear sound effects and musical embellishments from Hamish Oliver do the rest.

For the actors it is a marathon of quick thinking and instant response. To their credit there are no dull moments. The result is a little blurred sometimes as the storyline is reduced to high octane moments but the audience – primed by picnics and refreshments, not to mention free popcorn/chocolate from The Breeze – is in ready good humour.

Almost everyone in the ensemble has the added challenge of multiple roles, often involving ingenious costume solutions. Tinkerbell, the jealous, fairy is conveyed by a dynamically handled sparkly ball and a whistle, while other tricky demands such as the nemesis crocodile are managed with similar aplomb. 

Credit belongs to the whole cast with the anchor roles of Wendy (Kate Hellings), Peter Pan (Ben Ashby) and Derek Flores (Captain Hook as well as Mr Darling), especially strong.

For a summer evening of high good spirits the show has much to offer.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council