To get to Neverland, Peter Pan once said, you head towards the “second star to the right and straight on ’til morning.”
For many parents and children though, it turned out they only needed to visit Saddle Rock Elementary School.
The Saddle Rock Drama Club brought Neverland to the hundreds of their peers twice on Friday, showcasing the iconic tale of Peter Pan, the boy who would never grow up.
The performance was the culminating moment of the Saddle Rock Drama Club enrichment program, led by co-teachers Chad Lasky and Rachel Weis-Stone, which aims to build confidence, friendship and life skills in children, not to mention an outlet for self-expression.
“It really helps with their confidence and their reading and their camaraderie,” said Debbie Kerendian, the president of the Saddle Rock Elementary School Parent-Teacher Association. “There are a lot of pluses that come with having this type of enrichment.”
Students in the school’s morning drama class had been preparing for several weeks and going beyond the one hour a week class, parents and teachers said. This involved practicing lines, rehearsing after school and talking with their classmates constantly.
“The excitement, you could see [it] building over the last couple of weeks,” Pera Flood, whose son played John in the production, said after Friday’s second showing. “And with the drama of the snow days, it was really just excitement.”
“There’s nothing better than your child being excited to go to school,” Flood added.
Many parents, both with kids in the class and not, were also involved, helping create Neverland. There was a giant painted pirate ship for Captain Hook, a tall tree draped in twirled paper, and carefully placed drapery, for example, complemented by colored light basking the stage.
But for Rody Martinez, the lead set designer who many complimented on his efforts, that was a small part of the show.
“I think the performance from these kids was exceptional and I felt that maybe if this added to it, we did our job,” Martinez, a stay-at-home dad, said on Friday. “They were really on point both shows.”
Jordana Levine said her son Jacob, who played Mr. Smee in the production, was initially reluctant to get involved. But her son ultimately came to enjoy it, she said, because he connected with other children he might not have otherwise and helped create something great.
“You don’t have to be the star of the show,” Levine said, “but to just be involved is so wonderful.”
When Chad Lasky and Rachel Weis-Stone were asked about what their vision was for this year’s performance, they said two big pieces of it were creating “a memorable and worthwhile experience” and honing a lot of life skills.
“There’s so many different ways you can design and do a drama program, but the past three years we have really created a club where the end goal is ultimately to put on a show,” Weis-Stone said.
“And this hopefully opens the windows to many of them who always wanted to be on stage,” Lasky later added.
In addition to the two Friday performances for students, the Saddle Rock Drama Club will put on another show on Tuesday, March 27, at 7 p.m. geared toward working parents who otherwise could not attend.
While the enrichment program has put on different shows for about three years, Peter Pan will mark the first nighttime show connected to Saddle Rock Drama Club.