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October 29, 2019, Washington, D.C.: Shakespeare Theatre Company is excited to announce the cast of Peter Pan and Wendy (previously announced as Peter Pan), a reimagining of J.M. BARRIE’s classic work by “America’s Most-Produced Playwright” (American Theatre) LAUREN GUNDERSON (Ada and the Engine, Silent Sky). This world premiere will be onstage for the holidays at Sidney Harman Hall from December 3, 2019-January 12, 2020.
This new old adventure retains much of its classic charm. “Obviously, we’re doing some flying, we’re having swordfights, we’re going to meet some fairies, and we’re going to go above ground, underground, and there may even be a mermaid. We want to let the original and all its fantasy shine,” promises Gunderson. “Because, why would I ever touch that? That stuff is great. That’s why I love that story.”
“At its core, Peter Pan is about imagination,” says STC’s Associate Artistic Director ALAN PAUL (Camelot, The Comedy of Errors), a Helen Hayes Award-winning director. “Rather than go small, we have decided to go big! There will be sumptuous sets, flying, a mischievous and magical Tinkerbell, an enormous crocodile, and even a real dog playing Nana.” The fantastical Neverland is designed by JASON SHERWOOD, a recent Emmy Award winner (RENT-Live) with costumes by LOREN SHAW, a two-time Drama Desk nominee. Sherwood and Shaw previously teamed up to create the immersive space and the vibrant costumes for STC’s all-male production of The Taming of the Shrew directed by Ed Sylvanus Iskandar.
STC Affiliated Artist DEREK SMITH, a Helen Hayes (Twelfth Night, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2) and Tony Award nominee (The Green Bird), returns to Sidney Harman Hall to play both the menacing Captain Hook and the doting father Mr. Darling. JENNI BARBER (Sunday in the Park with George, All My Sons) who has delighted audiences as Glinda in Wicked, will also play two roles, Mrs. Darling in Edwardian England while donning the wings of Tinkerbell in Neverland.
Several Helen Hayes-nominated favorites are returning to STC, including the comedic talents of TOM STORY (The Comedy of Errors) as Hook’s righthand Smee, with GREGORY WOODDELL (The Comedy of Errors) and MICHAEL GLENN (The School for Lies) as Pirates.
At the center of Gunderson’s adaptation, however, are three complex new portrayals of Peter Pan, Wendy Darling, and Tiger Lily, all played by STC newcomers, JUSTIN MARK, SINCLAIR DANIEL, and ISABELLA STAR LABLANC, respectively. “As Lauren and I pulled up our sleeves and began to imagine this production, we realized it was really a story for today,” Paul states about the changes to the main characters. “Lauren’s version of the story reclaims it by focusing on the journeys of its female characters. In many ways, Lauren’s version of the play is an exploration of how young men and women begin to shape their own identities.”
“The great surprise of digging deep into the Peter Pan myth is how tragic Peter’s story is. When we meet him, he is all youth and joy,” says Paul. “But as we get to know him, we see his difficulty in connecting with others. Peter Pan left his nursery only to find the window shut when he tried to return, and his mother with another baby.” JUSTIN MARK (in a word, The Forgotten Women) will portray Peter Pan, who is searching for belonging after his own brush with abandonment.
When approached by STC to adapt the work, Gunderson was at first apprehensive. “But then I thought, this is a chance for me to address the sexism and racism of the original, and make this a play of feminism, anti-colonialism, and anti-racism, and bring together this wonderful cohort of young people to tell a story of how they triumph together.”
“I write plays that give women voice and put their struggles, passions, power, and wit center stage,” Gunderson shared with American Theatre about her second year topping the most produced playwrights list. Peter Pan and Wendy follows suit, placing Wendy Darling centerstage as a budding young scientist whose personal hero is Madame Curie. An equal to the adventurous boy who never grew up, SINCLAIR DANIEL (Madame Secretary) will play Wendy. A recent graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Acting, Daniel is very excited to be returning to her hometown of D.C. to make her STC debut.
Crucial for Gunderson was to address the problematic portrayal of Indigenous Americans in J.M. Barrie’s original and many subsequent adaptations. Tiger Lily has been written with sensitivity and a sense of history, as an activist, a smart and capable girl who defends her home and becomes an inspiration for Wendy. “We need to give a real voice to Tiger Lily, and come to her character as an Indigenous American with every manner of respect and empowerment that we can,” explains Gunderson. ISABELLA STAR LABLANC (Jungle Theater: The Wolves, Little Women), a Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota actress, writer, storyteller, and activist working for better, more nuanced representations of Indigenous Americans on film and television, is taking on this reinvigorated depiction of Tiger Lily.
The cast will be rounded out with CHAUNCEY CHESTNUT (Wu-Tang: An American Saga) as Michael Darling and CHRISTOPHER FLAIM (Mary Poppins) as John Darling, with the Lost Boys played by FRANCISCO GONZÁLEZ (The Fantasticks) as Tootles, JORIAH KWAME (25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) as Slightly, RONEN LEWIS (Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies) as Curly, TENDO NSUBUGA (A Misanthrope) and DARREN ALFORD (Is This the Wiz)as the Twins, CALVIN MCCULLOUGH (Miss You Like Hell) as a Pirate, and an ensemble including OLIVER ARCHIBALD (The Lehman Trilogy), MEGAN HUYNH (Hamlet FFA),and JOSEPH RESPICIO (Zerospace).
“As a father of twin daughters, I want to produce plays that children will love and that families can see together,” adds Artistic Director Simon Godwin. “The world premiere of Peter Pan and Wendy is the start of a new family programming initiative at Shakespeare Theatre Company, where we produce a play for families during the holidays. This initiative is inspired by the theatres in London where I served as Associate Director, seeing the joy that audiences experienced with modern classics such as War Horse (National Theatre) and Matilda (Royal Shakespeare Company).” Youth tickets (for children ages 5-14) are specially priced at $35.
Both Paul and Gunderson are hoping for a multi-generational audience. “It is very important to me that this play appeal as much to adults as to young audiences,” Paul explains. “Adult audiences will respond deeply to the play’s reflection on youth, time and mortality, while audiences young and old will find delight in the play’s magic.”
Peter Pan and Wendy is sponsored by Suzanne and Glen Youngkin. The Restaurant Partner is Rosa Mexicano.
ABOUT LAUREN GUNDERSON
LAUREN M. GUNDERSON is the most produced playwright in America of 2017, the winner of the Lanford Wilson Award, the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award and the Otis Guernsey New Voices Award, she is also a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and John Gassner Award for Playwriting, and a recipient of the Mellon Foundation’s 3-Year Residency with Marin Theatre Company. She studied Southern Literature and Drama at Emory University, and Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School where she was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship. Her work has been commissioned, produced and developed at companies across the US including South Cost Rep (Emilie, Silent Sky), The Kennedy Center (The Amazing Adventures of Dr. Wonderful And Her Dog!), Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The O’Neill, The Denver Center, San Francisco Playhouse, Marin Theatre, Synchronicity, Berkeley Rep, Shotgun Players, TheatreWorks, Crowded Fire and more. She co-authored Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley with Margot Melcon, which was one of the most produced plays in America in 2017. Her work is published at Playscripts (I and You, Exit Pursued By A Bear, The Taming, and Toil And Trouble), Dramatists (The Revolutionists, The Book of Will, Silent Sky, Bauer, Miss Bennet) and Samuel French (Emilie). Her picture book Dr Wonderful: Blast Off to the Moon was be released from Two Lions / Amazon in May 2017. LaurenGunderson.com and @LalaTellsAStory.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Associate Artistic Director
STC: The Comedy of Errors (Helen Hayes Award Nomination, Best Director); Romeo and Juliet (mainstage and 2018 Free For All); Camelot; Kiss Me, Kate; Man of La Mancha (Helen Hayes Award Nomination, Best Director); A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Helen Hayes Award, Best Director); The Boys from Syracuse; The Winter’s Tale (2014 Free For All); Twelfth Night (2010 Free For All); As You Like It (Associate Director); Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 (Associate Director); numerous galas, readings, and special events; Assistant Director: 13 shows. THEATRE DIRECTING: 5th Avenue Theatre: Kiss Me, Kate | Arena Stage: The Pajama Game | Signature Theatre: I Am My Own Wife | Studio Theatre 2ndStage: Silence! The Musical (Helen Hayes Nomination, Best Director), The Rocky Horror Show | MetroStage: Fully Committed | University of Maryland: The Matchmaker | Apex Theatre Company: Richard II. OPERA DIRECTING: Palm Beach Opera: The Pirates of Penzance (with Stephanie Blythe) | Portland Opera: Man of La Mancha | Washington National Opera: Penny (premiere) | numerous works for Urban Arias, The In Series, Strathmore Concert Hall, Wolf Trap Opera and the National Symphony Orchestra. PERSONAL: Finalist for the 2013 European Opera Directing Prize (Vienna, Austria) | AlanPaulDirector.com.
ABOUT THE CAST
REGIONAL: Purple September Productions: Is This the Wiz, The Greatest Showman. FILM: The Darkest Minds. TV: House of Cards, Turn: Washington’s Spies, Chicago Fire. PERSONAL: Darren Alford is a young man who likes to play basketball, dance, do flips and practice Parkour. Training: Darren has taken private acting lessons with Coach Mark McKinnon at Mark McKinnon Acting Studio. Instagram: @darren_alford_ .
NEW YORK: Off-Broadway: Park Ave Armory: The Lehman Trilogy; NY Classical: Macbeth. REGIONAL: State Theatre New Jersey: Titus Andronicus; Arkansas Rep: Macbeth; Theatre at Monmouth: The Tempest.
NEW YORK: Broadway: All My Sons, Sunday in the Park with George, Wicked, The Nance, Annie, The Performers, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. NY/REGIONAL: By The Way, Meet Vera Stark (Signature Theatre) | Sunday in the Park with George (Huntington Theatre Company – Elliot Norton Award) | Private Lives (Hartford Stage) | As You Like It, The Tempest (Sam Mendes’ The Bridge Project) | From Up Here (Manhattan Theatre Club) | Paint Your Wagon, A New Brain (Encores!). TELEVISION: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Master of None, Elementary, Smash, Law & Order: SVU. PERSONAL: Training: University of Michigan.
TELEVISION: Hulu mini-series/Wu-Tang: An American Saga. OTHER: Montgomery County Recycling: Mobile App Game, Fisher Price Voice Over: Radio commercial, D.C. Black Arts Festival: Preacher Woman, U.S. Postal Service Web Video, Kroger Web Video, National Park Service IMAX Commercial, National Aquarium TV Commercial, Erickson Senior Living TV Commercial, Destination DC print model, Union Plus print model, MedStar Health Systems print model. PERSONAL: He/Him/His | Chauncey Chestnut is a Washington, D.C. resident. At the age of four, Chauncey showed great interest in entertainment. He often controlled the TV remote in the family room watching networks like Disney and Nickelodeon channels and would practice scripting and performing his own TV commercials. He expressed an interest in having his own TV show because he was sure he was as funny as the kids he’d seen on TV. In 2012, Chauncey was afforded an opportunity to audition for a talent manager and his career soon took off on a regional level. He has appeared in TV commercials and mini-series, Off-Broadway plays, dance productions and modeling. Training: Linda Townsend Management and Divine Dance Institute. Social Media: @allaboutchauncey.
REGIONAL: Williamstown Theatre Festival: Taiga in the Berkshires. TELEVISION: Madam Secretary. PERSONAL: she/her/hers. An avid traveler and New York transplant, Sinclair is very excited to be returning to her hometown of D.C. for this production. Training: NYU Tisch School of the Arts: BFA in Acting.
NEW YORK: Broadway: Mary Poppins; 1st National Tour: Mary Poppins; TV: Law & Order: SVU; PERSONAL: Christopher is a NYC based actor thrilled to be performing in D.C. Training: Northwestern University. @christopherflaim.
STC: School for Lies (Dubois/Basque), Romeo & Juliet (Friar John). SELECT REGIONAL: Arena Stage: Junk, Sovereignty, Baskerville, Good People | Round House Theatre: Gem of the Ocean, Small Mouth Sounds, Stage Kiss, THIS | Woolly Mammoth: Clybourne Park | Folger Theatre: Nell Gwynn, As You Like It, Sense & Sensibility, Hamlet, Henry VIII, Arcadia | Theater J: Brighton Beach Memoirs, Photograph 51 | Signature Theatre: The Lieutenant of Inishmore | Olney Theatre Center: Tiger Style!, Marjorie Prime, Neville’s Island | Studio Theatre: Jumpers for Goalposts | Constellation Theatre: Scapin | Longacre Lea: Fear, Cat’s Cradle, The Hothouse, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead | Kennedy Center TYA: Teddy Roosevelt and The Ghostly Mistletoe | Washington Stage Guild: The Underpants, A Skull in Connemara, Major Barbara.
NEW YORK: The Fantasticks (Weston Playhouse) | Superhero (Eugene O’Neil) | The Fortress of Solitude (NYU Grad Acting) | Head Over Heels (New York Stage & Film) | The Mollyhouse | Sister Act. Training: NYU Tisch. Francisco produces and performs in concerts throughout NYC—most recently a benefit for Bring Change to Mind, a nonprofit dedicated to encouraging dialogue about mental health, and to raising awareness, understanding, and empathy. His work has been showcased at Radio City Music Hall, Lincoln Center, and the National Opera Center. @francisco.gonzalez.arts.
STC: Hamlet (2019 Free For All, Ensemble). REGIONAL: Sylvia Center: Mr. Burns, a Post Electric Play. AWARDS: Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival: Irene Ryan Region 7 National Finalist, Certificate of Merit for Performance. OTHER: Western Summer Theatre Company: I Began Anyway (devised with Blessed Unrest). TRAINING: Western Washington University: BA in Acting.
REGIONAL: 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Dunes Summer Theatre (DST), Charlotte’s Web; DST, Avenue Q, Farmers Alley Theater. PERSONAL: He/him/his. Joriah is also an upcoming composer/playwright and recently won the Write Out Loud writing competition and had his original song “Little Miss Perfect” performed by Taylor Louderman. Training: Western Michigan University; BFA in Music Theatre Performance. Instagram: @JoriahKwame. JoriahKwame.com.
Isabella Star LaBlanc*
REGIONAL: Jungle Theater: The Wolves, Little Women | Mixed Blood Theater: Autonomy | Guthrie Theater: Water is Sacred | Cincinnati Shakespeare Company: August: Osage County | Children’s Theater Company: Peter Pan. FILM: The Coyote Way (Sundance Film Festival Native Film Lab). OTHER: 2017 CBS Drama Diversity Casting Initiative Participant. Instagram: @isabella_lablanc.
REGIONAL: Mosaic Theater Company: Hooded, Or Being Black for Dummies | Kansas City Repertory Theatre: A Christmas Carol | The Coterie Theatre: Seussical!, Frindle | The Living Room Theatre, Starlight Theatre. FILM: Maxine (Afrikana Independent Film Festival). TELEVISION: Thou Shalt Not. PERSONAL: Training: Elon University. RonenLewis.com.
NEW YORK: Off-Broadway: Cherry Lane Theater: in a word (playwright Lauren Yee). REGIONAL: Bay Street Theater: The Forgotten Women | Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival: Octavius Caesar in Antony & Cleopatra. FILM: Netflix’s Coin Heist. TV: Law & Order: SVU, Madame Secretary, Charles Van Dalh on Gotham. OTHER: Newt in the video game Red Dead Redemption II. Justin has collaborated with playwright Jen Silverman on new play development at The Lark, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, and The Playwrights Center in Minneapolis. TRAINING: Juilliard.
REGIONAL: Baltimore Center Stage: Miss You Like Hell | Arena Stage: Snow Child | Signature Theatre: Freaky Friday, Jesus Christ Superstar | Ford’s Theatre: A Christmas Carol | Olney Theatre Center: ELF, South Pacific, CARMEN, GODSPELL | Everyman Theatre: A Raisin in the Sun | Imagination Stage: Looking For Roberto Clemente, When She Had Wings, Peter and the Wolf, The Freshest Snow Whyte | Adventure Theatre MTC: Mirandy and Brother Wind, BIG, Miss, Nelson is Missing, Snowy Day | Toby’s Dinner Theatre: Shrek, In the Heights. AWARDS: Irene Ryan Nominee. TRAINING: Virginia Commonwealth University: BFA in Theatre Performance.
REGIONAL: WSC Avant Bard: A Misanthrope | Mosaic Theater Company: Native Son | 1st Stage: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Farnsworth Invention | Imagination Stage: Looking for Roberto Clemente | Red Branch Theatre Company: Sweeney Todd, Heathers: The Musical. PERSONAL: Training: University of Maryland: BA in Theatre. Upcoming: Kill Move Paradise at Rep Stage.
NEW YORK: OTHER: Zerospace (zerospace.co). PERSONAL: he/him/his. Joseph is a New York based actor. Training: Montclair State University: BFA in Acting. Instagram: @respiciojoseph.
Captain Hook/Mr. Darling
STC: Affiliated Artist; Twelfth Night; As You Like It; The Government Inspector; Much Ado About Nothing (mainstage, 2013 Free For All); The Merchant of Venice; Romeo and Juliet; The Doctor’s Dilemma; Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 (Helen Hayes Award nomination); The School for Scandal; The Witch of Edmonton. NEW YORK: Broadway: The Green Bird (Tony nomination), The Government Inspector, Timon of Athens, Jackie: An American Life, Ring Round the Moon, Getting and Spending, several years as Scar in The Lion King; Off-Broadway: The White Devil, Heartbreak House, The School for Scandal, ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore, Incident at Vichy, Dance of Death, Sylvia (Drama League, Los Angeles Ovation awards), King John (2000 Derwint award), Dark Rapture, Cruise Control, Ten by Tennessee, The Green Bird (Obie Award), The Witch of Edmonton (Calloway Award). REGIONAL: McCarter Theatre Center: The Figaro Plays; Several productions at American Repertory Theater; Center Stage; The Old Globe; Dallas Theater Center; Coconut Grove Playhouse; Pittsburgh Public Theater; La Jolla Playhouse; Alley Theatre; Portland Stage Co. FILM: Advice from a Caterpillar, The Stand-In, Jungle to Jungle, Internal Affairs, The Jew of Malta (currently at film festivals). TELEVISION: The Good Wife, The Equalizer, Another World, Ryan’s Hope. TRAINING: Juilliard; Member of The Acting Company.
STC: Affiliated Artist, The School for Lies, The Taming of the Shrew, The Winter’s Tale (2014 Free For All and mainstage), The Government Inspector, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Cymbeline, Twelfth Night (2010 Free For All and mainstage), Richard II, Henry V, Design for Living, Major Barbara, The Rivals, Twelfth Night (1995 Free For All), Measure for Measure. REGIONAL: Synetic Theater: Three Men in a Boat; Arena Stage: The Book Club Play, Oliver; Ford’s Theatre: Our Town, Sabrina Fair, A Christmas Carol, 1776, The Glass Menagerie; Round House Theatre / Olney Theatre Center: Angels in America; Mosaic Theatre Company: Blood Knot; Berkshire Theatre Festival: The Book Club Play, The Glass Menagerie, Amadeus, Secret Lives of the Sexists, The Heidi Chronicles, The Misanthrope, Moby Dick–Rehearsed, Camelot, Life’s a Dream, Design for Living (director); Studio Theatre: POP!, The Wolfe Twins, The Invention of Love, The York Realist, Ivanov, A Number, The Pillowman, The Rocky Horror Show, Moth (director), Terminus (director), Silence! The Musical; Folger Theatre: As You Like It, The School for Scandal, Henry IV Part 1; Eugene O’Neill Theater Center; McCarter Theatre Center; Kansas City Repertory; Round House Theatre; Great Lakes Theater Festival; Seattle Repertory Theatre. AWARDS: Seven Helen Hayes Award nominations; Fox Foundation Fellowship. TRAINING: Duke University; The Juilliard School.
STC: Affiliated Artist; Hamlet, The Comedy of Errors (2018), Othello (2017), The School for Lies (Helen Hayes nomination: Outstanding Lead Actor), Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, The Importance of Being Earnest, An Ideal Husband, The Merchant of Venice, Cyrano, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Lady Windermere’s Fan, Othello (2005), The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Twelfth Night, The Country Wife, Don Carlos, Richard II, The Comedy of Errors (2006). BROADWAY: The Lyons, Cymbeline; OTHER SELECTED THEATRE: Arena Stage/McCarter Theatre Center: Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery (Sherlock Holmes; World Premiere); Philadelphia Theatre Company: Terrence McNally’s Some Men (World Premiere); Huntington Theatre Company: David Grimm’s Miracle at Naples (World Premiere); Chicago Shakespeare Theater: Henry VIII (Henry VIII); Mark Taper Forum: School of Night (American Premiere);Signature Theatre: Cabaret. Round House Theatre:Stage Kiss, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Oslo; Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis: Much Ado About Nothing (Kevin Kline nomination: Outstanding Lead Actor). TELEVISION: Person of Interest, 30 Rock, The Good Wife, Third Watch. TRAINING: The Juilliard School.