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Local youths join Grand Rapids Ballet in "Peter Pan"

Feb. 25, 2008

KALAMAZOO--Ten Kalamazoo-area youngsters will take the stage with the Grand Rapids Ballet Company in a single performance of "Peter Pan" at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 19, in Western Michigan University's Miller Auditorium.

The beloved story about a boy who refuses to grow up is reborn in Gordon Peirce Schmidt's original production. Pirates, fairies, and a troupe of more than 20 other endearing characters take center stage as Peter and Tinkerbell lead the audience on an amazing adventure in Neverland.

"We've taken a classic tale and really brought it to life with athletic dancing, great special effects and popular music," says Schmidt, who is artistic director for the Grand Rapids Ballet. "This is something that parents can enjoy right alongside their kids."

Many parents will take pleasure in watching the show with their youngsters, but a handful will be in the audience without their loved ones. They won't be able to witness the wonder in their children's eyes, which light up with excitement each time their favorite character dances across the stage. They'll be equally delighted, though, watching proudly as their kids illuminate the stage and bring the enchanting performance to life.

Evangeline Whitlock, production stage manager for the Grand Rapids Ballet, says the company reserved 10 of its 13 Lost Boys roles for young people from the Kalamazoo area, as part of an ongoing effort to build a strong collaborative relationship with WMU and the city of Kalamazoo. An open audition was held for local children and teens in January. Tryouts consisted of learning and demonstrating choreography from the production, and casting was based on level of dance, tumbling, gymnastic and acting skills. Whitlock says the talent she saw at the auditions was astounding.

"We were thrilled that children of such varied dance, gymnastic and theatrical backgrounds came out to audition," she says. "The audience is in for a real treat. The children who portray the Lost Boys in Kalamazoo have an amazing energy that is really going to light up the stage at Miller."

Tickets for "Peter Pan" at Miller Auditorium are on sale now and range from $10 to $30. They are available at (269) 387-2300 or (800) 228-9858, online at millerauditorium.com, or by visiting the Miller Auditorium Ticket Office or Epic Center Box Office in downtown Kalamazoo. Groups of 20 or more should call (269) 387-2312 for special discounts.

Media contact: Tracey Lawie (269) 387-2309, tracey.lawie@wmich.edu

WMU News
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