Cherry Hill youth actors ready to take the stage in ‘Peter Pan’

The show opens at the Dennis Flyer Theater at Camden County College on July 13 and runs through July 15.

Allison Shapiro of Cherry Hill (top row, middle) is the matriarch of the Darling Family. From Left: Nicole Duffy of Williamstown (Wendy), Ryan McDermott of Gloucester Township (Michael), and Colin Corriveau (John) of Plainsboro

Four young Cherry Hill actors will perform with in Mainstage Center for the Performing Arts Summer Stage’s rendition of “Peter Pan.” The show runs from July 13 through July 15 at the Dennis Flyer Theater on the campus of Camden County College in Blackwood.

Many of the actors looked forward to performing in “Peter Pan.” Anaya Colon, 15, is one of the Cherry Hill actors performing in the show, playing the character Tiger Lily.

“I’ve always liked the story of ‘Peter Pan,’” Colon said. “When they did it in the fall at Mainstage two years ago, I wanted to be in it.”

Colon’s background is in dancing, making her a good fit for the role of Tiger Lily, the daughter of the Native American chief Fighting Prawn. Tiger Lily’s character is focused more around dancing.

Anaya Colon of Cherry Hill portrays Tiger Lily, who is rescued from Captain Hook by Peter Pan, Jeffrey Redwanowski.

“I just really am able to play different characters with body movement instead of voices and be able to tell a story with my body,” Colon said.

For some, like 17-year-old Allison Shapiro, the show is a reflection of themselves. Shapiro plays the role of Mrs. Darling, the mother of three of the main characters, Wendy, John and Michael. Shapiro described Mrs. Darling’s character as a motherly figure and said it’s a reflection of the type of role she is playing at Mainstage’s Summer Stage camp this year.

“I think I’m a good fit because I’m naturally a leader in the cast as a senior,” Shapiro said. “In the show, I’m playing a motherly figure. So some of the kids look up to me in camp and at the show.”

Gabriella Hay, 13, plays one of the lost boys in the musical. She is one cast member who has experience performing “Peter Pan” in the past.

“I’ve loved ‘Peter Pan’ for a while,” Hay said. “I did the junior play before, but this is the Broadway version, so it’s a little different.”

“I like both versions, but I like this more because it’s not Disney-based,” she added. “Sometimes the characters are a little bit different.”

For 15-year-old Elise Baratta, she is performing with Mainstage for the first time. She joined Summer Stage this year after receiving encouragement from Cherry Hill High School East theater director Tom Weaver and some of her classmates.

“I was really excited because I’ve never done ‘Peter Pan’ before,” she said.

The cast members have all faced individual challenges preparing for the show. Colo said she has been working hard on a dance number with lead actor Jeffrey Redwanowski, playing the role of Peter Pan.

“Me and Jeffrey get to sing that together and we get to dance together,” Colon said. “There’s so many things going on. I even worked on a dance solo today for myself.”

Shapiro’s biggest challenge has been trying to act as much like an adult as possible as Mrs. Darling.

“It’s the accent, learning how to speak very proper, very British, and holding a proper stance,” Shapiro said. “It’s not used to how I normally talk or normally act.”

Baratta is part of the ensemble and plays two characters. She is the Darling family’s maid in part of the show and then a pirate in other scenes.

“It’s mostly just remembering, right now, I’m a maid, I’m a kind gentle person,” Baratta said. “Then realizing I’m a pirate, so I have to be gritty and messy.”

Baratta said getting into character is the biggest challenge she faces going into a show.

“It’s mostly remembering you have to be that character during the song or when you’re doing a dance,” she said. “You’re not yourself.”

There are a number of themes the cast members hope audience members notice when they see the show. Hay wants the audience to pay attention to the little things going on in the scenes.

“I really want the audience to enjoy the play, but I really want them to pay attention to every detail,” Hay said. “There’s been so much work put into it. Even the small stuff in the back that’s happening.”

Shapiro hopes the audience can remember what it’s like to be a kid again. She said the feeling of youthfulness is a huge theme in the show.

“The whole message is never growing up, always believing and that there’s a little bit of magic and childhood in everyone,” Shapiro said.

To purchase tickets for “Peter Pan,” visit www.mainstage.org or call (856) 227–3091.