Peter Pan Flies By Miami (Review)

How did we get here? As we rapidly approach the intermission season, the limbo space between one performing arts season to the next, institutions in South Florida are wrapping up their efforts, while some are showcasing their penultimate selection of talent. One venue with a firecracker of a musical play is Miami’s Arsht Center and “Peter Pan.” Only on stage for one week, this new adaptation of the classic 1941 play offers contemporary outlooks to dated and harmful portrayals of women and Indigenous cultures.

This ageless tale came up with me as I grew; the idea of never wanting to grow up resonates heavily with kids in the 90s as it does in the 20s. Even if the production fell short, I knew it could only be but so bad, considering how vividly I remember the crocodile’s ticking tail or the furry costumes of the Lost Boys. Nurturing the inner child in me, I decided to take my parents to the opening night performance, and it will remain forever in the annals of their memories. I remember my mother holding me in her lap as we watched the dog worry about Wendy and her brothers, so I wanted her to relive that in some small way.

“I’m Flying” Micah Turner Lee as John, Reed Epley as Michael, Hawa Kamara as Wendy, Nolan Almeida as Peter Pan. Photo by Matthew Murphy

Opening the night, the live music and orchestration during the overture laid to rest that adults were only in for a children’s performance. The strings and horns swelled, all while the audience looked longingly at the backdrop for the performance, which was just a giant silhouette of Peter Pan zipping through the sky. The scene changes themselves, moving from a kid’s bedroom, to a pirate ship, to a forest, even to a galaxy, were nothing short of incredible. Full immersion was never broken, yet again astounding me with stage mechanics and the effort it takes for the illusion of seamlessness.

The first scene of the night thrusts the audience into Wendy (Hawa Kamara), John (Micah Turner Lee), and Michael’s (Camden Kwok) bedroom. A brisk introduction to these characters situates a childlike innocence in the two boys with a hint of rebellion or longing from Wendy, hoping she can have a little more freedom. Peter Pan (Nolan Almeida) arrives, looking for his shadow, only to whisk the family away, teaching them to fly along the way. “I’m Flying,” performed by this quartet, is the catchiest song of the show by far.


Offering both comic relief and gravitas, Garcia’s performance was the best of the entire night.

Which brings me to Captain Hook, portrayed by Cody Garcia. Offering both comic relief and gravitas, Garcia’s performance was the best of the entire night. Hook’s voice rippled through the seats, making his disdain for Pan known and his fear for the crocodile felt. The intermission break even ended with Hook replacing the iconic silhouette of Pan serving as the backdrop with a silhouette backdrop version of himself, donned with a pointed hook. Additionally, the new playwright’s take on greater awareness to problematic retellings of the story, Larissa FastHorse provided even greater context to the Indigenous tribe found on Neverland, lead by Tiger Lily (Raye Zaragoza).

Any real critique of this performance comes from its intended age range. By that I mean, audience goers should not expect much plot intricacy from “Peter Pan,” but rather a good time. In that fashion, Peter Pan’s desperation on Tinkerbell (who is portrayed as a tiny ball of light), felt empty and much out of place. His exasperated plea served only to get the audience speaking out, aimed primarily at the youth, but felt forced and far from genuine. However, by the ending, it is clear that a simple, good time at the theater is just as good as one filled with complexity and tears.

I Gotta Crow (from L) Nolan Almeida as Peter Pan, Hawa Kamara as Wendy. Photo by Matthew Murphy

“Peter Pan” is running now through Sunday, May 12, at the Arsht Center in Miami. It’s the second star to the right and on ‘til morning. 

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *