Imagine an intimate setting with rows of benches in a small space. Everything is dark, but there is magic waiting to happen. Everyone is in suspense. Children of all ages are gripping their parents’ arms with giddy anticipation. At once, the lights come up and you see a creature of wonder dressed in a fantastical costume. It is actress Michelle Polera, casting a glow on that feisty little fairy, Tinker Bell. Polera is accompanied by fellow actors Carlos Castillo (Peter Pan), Elliott Dash (Captain Hook), Topher Williams (Mr. Smee), Meghan Abdo (Wendy), Ashley K. Nicholas (Lost Boys), and Danny Pushkin (Pirates) in the action-packed 60-minute theater production of “Tinker Bell” at Adventure Theatre MTC!
World Premiere and Play Process Demystified
On June 22, 2018, the Adventure Theatre MTC (ATMTC) will present “Tinker Bell” as a world premiere play based on “Peter Pan,” the play written by Scottish playwright James M. Barrie. Parents who may be newbies to theater-speak will be pleasantly surprised to learn of the origins of “premiere” as they relate to theater performances. The word premiere indicates the first public performance of a work of art, but in practice, it refers to the first performance that is original and created specifically for a venue or event.
Michael J. Bobbitt, artistic director of ATMTC, described the world premiere in great detail with enthusiasm, recounting how a two-year process to create an original play came to fruition. “‘Tinker Bell’ is a world premiere play based on the novel ‘Peter Pan.’ We developed a play based on classic literature. Patrick Flynn is the playwright. He wrote the story from Tinker Bell’s point of view … how it happened and why it happened,” explains Bobbitt.
The idea-to-production chain of events is long, but common to ATMTC, as it produces two original theater productions each season. Bobbitt summarizes the process as follows: he first comes up with an idea of a story he wants to showcase, then asks playwrights to write an original play. Attorneys and artists then discuss the underlying rights and sign contracts after which the playwright spends roughly 3 to 6 months writing the play. Bobbitt makes notes on the draft play and begins the courting process of selecting play directors. An 8-month to 1-year audition window to select adult professional actors follows, and then the final process begins in which set design, costumes, sound and lighting are the focus right before rehearsals and then the premiere.
Bobbitt explains that the idea of “Tinker Bell” was muddled at first. Playwright Flynn looked at the material and proposed the idea of having a play with just five actors. Eventually, the play was fleshed out to incorporate seven actors with a complement of puppets. “This is live theater,” states Bobbitt, “[with a] creative way of showing an epic piece using seven characters. Puppetry art is a great way to help tell the story.”
The Feisty Little Fairy Comes Alive
When describing the play, “Tinker Bell,” Bobbitt repeatedly uses the word “feisty” to describe the central character. “Audiences get to see her vulnerable side [and she is] more well-rounded. Tinker Bell is not nice and we understand why she loves Peter Pan,” notes Bobbitt. Without revealing too much of the plot or the character development, he does offer an intriguing tease which can only be understood at the live theater presentation of “Tinker Bell.” “She drinks the poison and sacrifices her life for Peter Pan.”
Bobbitt promises a truly theatrical, exciting, nail-biting version of “Tinker Bell.” Children will especially thrill at seeing what Bobbitt refers to as the “magic reveals,” where only the talented stagehands will ever know how the fairies can appear as small and big. Despite the fact that the intimate 165-person theater has limited air space, Bobbitt and his production team successfully manages to show flying sequences and riveting pirate fighting scenes in ways that will remain a beautiful visual mystery to theatergoers.
The Adventure Theatre MTC is nestled in a serene wooded area in Glen Echo, Maryland, and is the anchor artist organization of Glen Echo Park, a rich, artistic mecca that is home to various arts organizations, including a myriad of resident artists, an aquarium, a music conservatory and a restored carousel.
The play “Tinker Bell” opens on June 22, 2018 and runs through August 19, 2018 with special performances on opening day June 22 (pajama party and pay-what-you-can), August 4 (sensory-friendly) and August 5 (fairy festival). “Tinker Bell” features live actors, as well as puppets, and is appropriate for all ages. ATMTC is located at 7300 MacArthur Boulevard in Glen Echo, Maryland. Tickets cost $19.50 per person and are available online at AdventureTheater-MTC.org.