A stirring rendition of the classic tale of Peter Pan will premiere at the Malco with KIPP students and staff running the whole shabang.

The Daily World

A renowned literary classic that continues to spark the imagination of children across the world has hit the stage at the Malco Theater on Cherry St. The KIPP Drama Department has put seven weeks of hard work into their production of J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” which involved about 50 students and staff.
Oliver Morrison, drama instructor, is directing and Abbey Kinnebrew is producing the school’s first dramatic production.

Morrison said the students worked long and hard to see the project to opening night. He detailed theatrical exercises and several weeks of dress rehearsals by the students.
“Peter Pan is just a fantastic play with so many fun characters – characters who have been famous for nearly a century,” said Morrison.
Although the play had Kippsters rocking with laughter as they watched their school mates perform, Morrison says that “Peter Pan” has a morale that lies deep within the story.

“What really interests me about the play is Peter. We love Peter because he has so much fun and adventure. And yet we feel bad for Peter because he has no home, no family. We learn that he runs away to Neverland to play games all his life because, he says, his mother shut him out of her house and replaced him,” said Morrison.
Morrison proposes that maybe Peter was accidentally locked out of his home and questions if his mother really replaced him.

Morrison says that Peter assumes that his mother turned her back on him.
“If this is true, then the way he acted makes a little bit of sense. He got himself trapped in a cycle of not being loved and not wanting to love because of it. But maybe he was mistaken, like we all are for brief moments, and convinced himself that those we hold dearest have deserted us,” said Morrison.
“I think the play warns us that if we leave in a moment of hurt and never come back, we are just like Peter-destined to always remain a child. A man, by contrast, knows how to return home to admit that he has been hurt and retrieve the love that is his life-blood,” said Morrison.

Walking into the theater, just minutes before the curtain call saw a flurry of activity by the students and staff responsible for the production.
Wes Oliver, stage manager, was applying make-up to actors and actresses as others scampered to the dressing room to fit into costumes designed by Blanca Diaz.
KIPP students Ana Maupin tested the lights and Cathy Henry adjusted the volume for the sound. Barbara Gatlin ran a tight ship as house manager with Aeisha Trice making sure all the lines flowed smoothly as a script manager.
Minutes before show time, the actors breathed heavy, nervous but composed a testament to their school. Drama is one of several programs added to KIPP’s curriculum this year. Students participate in drama class each day and attended two-days at the Arkansas Thespian Conference.

The actors include Precious Hunt and Markeyah Wilson as Peter Pan; Abba Colbert as Mrs. Darling; Casey Perry as Mr. Darling; Brittany Graves as Wendy Darling; Raheem Morris as John Darling; Millie Lofton as Michael Darling; Jaela Stayton as Tinker Bell; Galeesa Murph as Tootles; Stephanie Williams as Nibs; Lakiva Orr as Curley; Ryan Cunnings as Captain Hook; Brandon Lewis as Smee; Marquis Hughes as Starkey; Aaliyah Brown as Bill Jukes; Donna Cox as Cookson; Vanessa Williams as Noodles; James Hicks as Mullin; Anna Maupin and Whitney Honeycutt as Skylights; Jasmine Henderson as Pirate; Sierra Stevenson as Tiger Lily; Kendall Honeycutt as Panther; Taren Williams as Nana and the crocodile; Leahonna Hawkins as Liza; Victoria Brown as Omnes; Shamonica Brown as Lost boy; Jermaine Burchett as Twin 1 and Joshua Perry as Twin 2; Tristan Honeycutt, James Hicks and Kendall Honeycutt as Indians and Alexandria Vann, Anterica Carter and Olivia Sparks as mermaids and fairies.

On Tuesday, May 27, the KIPP School hosted a special showing of their spring production to 200 students at Westside and J.F. Wahl elementary schools.
KIPP held a repeat performance Wednesday and another is scheduled for Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Seats are $5.