My mother tells me that I always had a connection with Peter Pan although I must confess I can’t remember anything about him until I watched the Mary Martin version on television in the early sixties. Oh yes, I also remember wanting the Disney soundtrack, the one with the record cover of Peter peering in the window of the Darling nursery.
It was during my sophomore year at Hunter College that I was cast as Peter in the musical version. Although it looked as if a girl named Moira would be cast in the role, I auditioned near the end and won the part, allowing Moira to play Wendy. I was a wiry, 18-year-old who looked more like 15 with little facial hair, wavy dirty blonde hair, and a bounce in my walk. Although not a great singer, I knew how to sell a tune.
This particular production was aimed at a local orphanage so the director, a very nice guy named Bob, decided he would omit the song, “Wendy,” as he didn’t want to have the kids hear the Lost Boys singing over and over, “a mother, a mother, at last we found a mother.” Ironically, he substituted a syrupy song “M-O-T-H-E-R” with a lyric including “M is for the million things she gave me, O is that she’s only getting old…”
Although the rehearsal period seemed to go on forever, I met many of my college friends in that production . I had a huge crush on Linda, the musical director, but we instead became good friends. And I met Michael and Sharron who would be my best buddies for years to come. During the lengthy rehearsal period, we lost several members of our cast including our excellent Captain Hook. The actor who took over was extremely funny and as flamboyant a Hook as I have ever seen. After one performance, my Nana (grandmother) came backstage to congratulate me (“I thought you could sing!”) and commented that the actor playing Hook was having a difficult time letting go of his character as he was still quite flamboyant. When I introduced him to Nana, he made a grand bow and kissed her hand. She loved that!
There was also a dancer in the show, another Sharon (with one r) who was stunningly beautiful as well as graceful. I had a crush on her too. Her take on Tiger Lily was exotic and yet innocent. The only problem was that we never got to see her dance (which she choreographed) until we opened and then, during each performance, it was different. OMG! I just remembered the “Indian” lyric we had to sing just before her dance. “Him know la ippidy towa show ta.” Pretty bad huh? This took the place of “Ugg-A-Wugg” which I was sorry to see go.
Even though this version could not compete with college plays that I would eventually be cast in it was still much appreciated by the kids from the orphanage. And it served as a segue to my life long interest in theatre. And Peter Pan.