Fort Smith Little Theatre brings Peter Pan’s origin story to stage April 4-13

Peter Pan’s origin story lands on FSLT stage

John Hall portrays author James Barrie, and Sadie Bagley is his brother Davey, whose death as a child eventually inspired Barrie to create Peter Pan, in the Fort Smith Little Theatre production of “The Lost Boy.”

(Courtesy Photo/FSLT)
John Hall portrays author James Barrie, and Sadie Bagley is his brother Davey, whose death as a child eventually inspired Barrie to create Peter Pan, in the Fort Smith Little Theatre production of “The Lost Boy.” (Courtesy Photo/FSLT)

"This show is far more than just an origin story for a character,"says actor John Hall. "It's a vehicle for talking about grief, trauma, and the road that lies beyond that -- hopefully, healing."

Hall, a versatile Fort Smith Little Theatre actor best known as McMurphee in 2019's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," this time portrays James Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan. "The Lost Boy" is the story of how a tragedy in Barrie's life inspired the "boy who wouldn't grow up."

Scottish author James Barrie lost his brother Davey when both were youngsters, and his mother never forgave him. Despite his successes in life, he is haunted by the accident and comes to terms with it as an adult by creating Peter Pan.

Hall has studied Barrie's recorded interviews and will use the Scottish dialect indicative of Barrie's upbringing in his portrayal.

"For every role, I start by digging into the text and the subtext, looking for clues as to how the character would think and speak," Hall says. "This is especially true for the role of Barrie, for he's a complex, conflicted man."

"I knew after the first read-through with the cast, we would be taking the show into the deep thoughts realm," says director Joanne Peterson. "The emotion that each actor can bring to their part allows those deep thoughts to come through, and you can feel the hurt and pain of the events the main character is having to deal with."

"We definitely went with the deeper story," agrees Mary Beth McAlvain, who plays Barrie's mother, Margaret. "The play begins with an unimaginable tragedy. I mean a real gut punch. Things definitely lighten up after that, but the relationship between Barrie and his mother is sometimes tough to watch. The fact that he was able to create such a beautiful story from that tragedy is amazing.

"This is by far one of the hardest roles I've ever tackled," she adds. "I'm used to being the comic relief, but that's definitely not this character. Almost immediately my character becomes grief-stricken and bitter. She says and does some horrific things in her grief, but her pride won't let her apologize. There is a touching scene at the end that you don't want to miss!

"I hope when audiences leave the theater, they are talking about the beauty that came out of a horrible situation and the power of love and forgiveness."

Teen actress Sadie Bagley plays the dual roles of Davey Barrie and Peter Pan.

"The most challenging part is trying to find the balance between the seriousness of Davey Barrie's role when there are some heavy scenes compared with the more lighthearted scenes with Davey and Peter," she says. "The most rewarding part of being in this play has been being able to bring the character of Peter Pan to life and being able to make people laugh.

"Peter is adventurous and sometimes stubborn, but he can also be very childlike, because that's how Barrie remembers his brother," Bagley adds. "Like all brothers, they act more playful and silly around each other, and are a lot tamer when interacting with someone like their mother. For me, the part I like most playing is Peter, because I get to put myself into a fantasy world that slowly develops throughout the play."

Another teen actress, Isabella Ree, is enjoying playing the iconic character of Tinkerbell."

"She's very sassy, sarcastic and funny," she says. "I love getting to play the character than can help lighten the mood and make people laugh."

"I hope audiences cry and laugh along with the characters," says Bagley.

"I hope and pray audiences will come away with a new introspective," adds Rebekah Nickell, who portrays Barrie's loving friend Maureen. "Perhaps examining their own familial failures and knowing that there is no perfect family, but life is what you make it! I'd like them to know there is no better time than the present to rekindle relationships in their lives that may have been neglected."



'The Lost Boy'

WHEN -- 7:30 p.m. April 4-6; 2 p.m. April 7; again April 10-13

WHERE -- Fort Smith Little Theatre

COST -- $20 opening night; $13 all other shows

INFO -- or 783-2966

FYI -- FSLT says that although "The Lost Boy" tells the origin story of Peter Pan, it has themes that may be too mature for young children.

  photo  Mary Beth McAlvain plays James Barrie's mother, Margaret, who blames her living son for her other son's death. John Hall plays the author. (Courtesy Photo/FSLT)

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