Hook & Jill: Neverland as never before - Andrea Jones

West Thespians Fly High Producing ‘Peter Pan’

Hook & Jill Book CoverAurora Beacon News
by Deena Sherman
May 1, 2009

This coming Thursday through Saturday at 7 p.m., West Aurora High School will do something new for its spring musical.

Well, actually the thespians will do something old. It’s new because for the past few years West has performed very edgy shows, designed for adult audiences. This year they will perform a family oriented classic: “Peter Pan,” based on the work of J.M. Barrie. The original version of “Peter Pan” (sans music) was first performed in 1904.

West will take this beloved old work and update a few things. When I asked West’s drama sponsor, Ken Ruffalo, about the play, he told me he had tried to approach the show from a more modern perspective. He explained, “We took the idea of anime and tried to incorporate it into the costumes of the Lost Boys. We also have taken that idea and crossed it with the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ look for the pirates.”

Concerning this retro choice of shows which can be enjoyed by people of all ages, he told me, “The (theater) group has been a very good group this year. This style of show is completely different for them. They have not really had the experience of working in front of a younger audience. The subject matter is different, which requires a different approach to their acting, but they have adapted well.”

Another interesting aspect of this show will be the flying. Naturally, West never does anything in a small way. Where another school might have simply tried to rig something to lift characters a few feet off the ground to “fly” them out a window, West has hired a company called ZFX to fly Jessica Navarro as Peter Pan 70 feet out into the audience. As we have come to expect from West’s shows, this will look more like a professional production than something done at a high school.

The idea of Peter Pan, the boy who would never grow up, was inspired by the tragic death of a child, J.M. Barrie’s brother. As with all great literature, there are many levels of meaning and rich undertones. Barrie’s masterpiece challenges his audience to think about time, aging, maturity, and mortality while they watch a lighthearted children’s story. What genius! He has inspired authors and psychologists (for example, Dr. Dan Kiley’s “Peter Pan Syndrome” and “The Wendy Dilemma”) for more than a century.

After you see this production, if you’d like to read another story inspired by Barrie’s work, that delves deeper into the mysteries Barrie touches upon, take note of an announcement in your program about the upcoming novel called “Hook & Jill.”

Andrea Jones, a local author who has extensively studied Barrie’s works, let me read an advance copy of her book. “Hook & Jill” is an amazingly insightful Jungian allegory. Jones not only questions the original version’s assumption that prolonging childhood is desirable, but explores the dark side of Peter’s character and develops the characters of Wendy and Captain Hook in ways I would not have imagined.

It is shocking, then riveting, and I am in awe of her imagination and subtlety. The reader comes away wanting more, and happily, a series will be published.

If you pre-order her first book (at www.HookandJill.com) by May 15, the author will send a signed edition and donate $3 of the book’s price to the West High Auditorium. The book will be out this summer.

Understand, though, that the content of Jones’ work is very definitely grounded in themes of adult life, so as Hook might say, ”Readers, ye be warned.”


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