© 2022 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WEDH · WEDN · WEDW · WEDY · WNPR
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Actors in new "Peter Pan" musical in Branford fly alongside modern dance troupe Pilobolus

peter_pan_led.jpg
Keely Baisden Knudsen
/
Provided photo
Members of the Wheel Life Theatre Troupe and Pilobolus perform the Legacy Theatre's new adaptation of "Peter and Wendy" in Branford.

The story of “Peter Pan” has been told and retold countless times since J.M. Barrie’s 1904 play and subsequent novel introduced us all to the flying boy who refused to grow up, his nemesis Captain Hook, Wendy Darling and of course, the Lost Boys.

This weekend in Branford, the Legacy Theatre presents a new version of the story with original music called “Peter and Wendy.” The production combines the talents of the Wheel Life Theatre Troupe, which features actors of all ages who use a wheelchair or crutches, and the world renowned, Connecticut-based modern dance ensemble Pilobolus.

Keely Baisden Knudsen, the artistic director and co-founder of the Legacy Theatre in Branford, said she conceived of the new musical adaptation with the Wheel Life Theatre Troupe in mind.

Knowing that most stage productions of the Peter Pan story contain elements of flying (usually a flying rig, where the actor wears a harness and is hoisted off the ground), she came up with an idea.

“What if Pilobolus helped us fly?” Knudsen said. “So it was this pairing of extreme movers – Pilobolus – and those that move in different ways, coming together to become one unit to make the flying happen. No rigging, just humans helping humans.”

Knudsen pitched her plan to Matt Kent, co-artistic director of Pilobolus, who loved the idea and dispatched several members of the ensemble to Branford.

In one scene, the Darling family is hit with fairy dust, giving them all the ability to fly. Members of Pilobolus gracefully hoist the actors into the air to simulate flying. Pilobolus also lends a hand to Peter as he swordfights Captain Hook high above the stage.

The Wheel Life Theatre Troupe was formed by the Legacy Theatre in 2018.

“I have a daughter who gets around by using a wheelchair,” said Knudsen. “I thought, let’s start a theater troupe for people with mobility issues, but who would love to be considered for any and all roles.”

The dozen or so actors in the troupe rehearse and receive training Saturday mornings for free.

Performances of “Peter and Wendy” are Saturday, Aug. 20, at 10 a.m. and Sunday, Aug. 21 at 2 p.m. at the Legacy Theatre in Branford.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series “Where Art Thou?” Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of “Morning Edition”, and later of “All Things Considered.”

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.

Related Content