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Santa Barbara to Stage Rare Revival of Bernstein’s ‘Peter Pan’

Santa Barbara Theatre is producing a holiday production for the young and the young at heart.

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Original paintings by Diana Leidel of the mermaid lagoon scene will be used during scene changes in the Santa Barbara Theatre’s production of Peter Pan.

The Santa Barbara Theatre has announced that tickets are now on sale for the first-ever American revival of Leonard Bernstein’s Peter Pan, at the Lobero Theatre, Dec. 17-28.

This version uses J.M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan, the comic-fantasy play that has entranced young and old for more than 100 years. It will be accompanied by a live orchestra playing the songs and music written by composer/conductor Bernstein for a hit production that premiered on Broadway in 1950 with Jean Arthur as Peter Pan and Boris Karloff as Captain Hook and Mr. Darling.

Sir James Barrie was one of the leading playwrights in England at the turn of the last century. His classic play, Peter Pan, was written for a sophisticated London audience, and was an instant hit with theatergoers of all ages. As portrayed by Johnny Depp in the film Finding Neverland, Barrie was inspired to write Peter Pan by a family he met in Kensington Gardens. The play has been a popular choice in the repertory of theaters around the world ever since its premiere in December 1904.

Bernstein (1918-90) was perhaps the most influential figure in classical music in the last half of the 20th century. Composer, conductor, author, lecturer and media personality, Bernstein is renowned for his work in classical music and musical theater, ballet and film, with works such as West Side Story, Candide, On the Town and the score for On the Waterfront.

This fall, New York City will celebrate the 90th anniversary of Bernstein’s birth with a citywide festival of his work from September through December, presented by Carnegie Hall and the New York Philharmonic. But to see Bernstein’s Peter Pan, you’ll have to visit Santa Barbara.

“This is the first staged revival of Bernstein’s Peter Pan in the United States, and a major artistic coup for the Santa Barbara Theatre,” SBT managing director Ellen Pasternack says. “We’re thrilled to present this beautiful and joyous play to the residents of Santa Barbara as our gift for the December holidays.”

Albert Idhe, SBT’s producing director and Peter Pan director, says: “This version of Peter Pan was the first professional play I ever saw, and it hooked me on theater for life. Many critics have said that it’s the best Peter Pan ever to appear on Broadway.”

Bernstein’s Peter Pan features the original story with Peter, the flying Darling children, Captain Hook, Tinkerbell, pirates, Indians, lost boys, mermaids and one very large crocodile. Flying by Foy, professional AEA actors and custom-built sets and costumes will complete the picture at the Lobero Theatre.

There will be 14 performances of Peter Pan, with evening shows at 7 p.m. and matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets to the Dec. 17-18 previews are $30 to $40, with a gala opening night party on Dec. 19.

Performance tickets are $45 to $70 with a $32.50 ticket for children ages 5 to 18. Priority seating is available for an additional $50 donation to SBT. Discounts are available for college students, seniors and groups of 15 or more. All tickets are subject to a $3 Lobero facility fee.

For more information, call the Lobero Theatre at 805.963.0761 or visit www.sbtheatre.org.

Ellen Pasternack is managing director of the Santa Barbara Theatre.

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