THE STORY of Peter Pan is well known by this point, after years and years of adaptations and modern interpretations. The character first appeared in creator J.M. Barrie’s 1902 novel The Little White Bird, and has since evolved to the story we know today - most notably the 1953 Disney animated film.
Now, the tale is being told once more right here in Savannah. The Savannah Children’s Theatre is staging Peter Pan starting on Fri., May 24 and going for a three-week stretch. Ellen Sherrod is portraying the titular role, in her second show with the company.
“I’ve been in Savannah for four years, but I worked a lot with Savannah Stage Company,” she tells Connect. “They sucked me in here, and I’m addicted.”
Working with the Children’s Theatre, Sherrod says, provides a “very different energy” from her previous theater experiences.
“It’s a lot more focused on fun, obviously, and the community,” she says. “Everybody’s working together to make something, no matter what it takes.”
Sherrod portrayed Wendy in a production of Peter Pan when she was younger, but she calls the titular character a “dream role.”
“I was Wendy when I was 14. I was obsessed with it back then, and never thought that I could be Peter Pan. And then I heard about them doing it here, and I was like, ‘Oh, I could actually do that.’ It’s been the most fun role ever,” Sherrod says.
The Children’s Theatre production actually involves some flying, which Sherrod says she’s excited to explore.
“I flew as Wendy, so I have a vague memory of it. But it’s basically that you strap in a harness and you trust the other person. There’s literally another person holding a rope. It’s pure manpower! They yank the rope and you go up,” she says.
Acting, singing, and concentrating on the physicality of the flying is a unique challenge, and is something that Sherrod has been spending a lot of time preparing for.
“When I’m singing my songs that I know I’ll be doing up in the air, I’ll try and distract myself by doing physical things. I’ll lay on the floor or do yoga and sing, because I know that once I’m in the air I’m going to need to know my lyrics and lines backwards and forwards,” she says.
Sherrod says she attributes the lasting legacy of Peter Pan to the many different lenses that the story and character can be viewed through.
“There are dark lenses, light lenses, creepy lenses, fun lenses, and there are innocent lenses,” she says. “You can see it through whatever lens you want, which is why it attracts so many people. But for me, I see it in what I think is its purest form. Just the idea of childhood, the glory and wonder of childhood, and how everything to Peter is a game.”