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Middle school show gives ‘Peter Pan’ an investigative spin

“CSI: Neverland” cast members rehearse. The show plays today through Saturday.

“CSI: Neverland” cast members rehearse. The show plays today through Saturday.

Even a squinty-eyed David Caruso would be stymied by something so dastardly as the murder of . . . a shadow. Especially when that shadow belongs to none other than Peter Pantaloons.

More than two dozen Rundlett Middle School cast and crew members are gearing up for their three-night production of CSI: Neverland. The Performance Ensemble Group, a creative arts group at the school, is producing this comedic take on Peter Pan, which looks to uncover whodunit in the murder of Peter Pantaloon’s Shadow.

“They can’t use the same names because of Disney’s licensing,” chuckled Tony Bonjorno, CSI: Neverland director. “It’s really a very well-written, very funny script. I find it very amusing.

“I think comedies are good for this age group. If you get into too much drama they don’t really connect with it as well. That or they have love scenes. That’s awkward for this age group. So I like to do comedies.”

In this version, written by Wade Bradford, Murk and Tinker – the artist formerly known as Tinkerbell – are Fairy Forensics Officers, investigating the stabbing of Pantaloon’s shadow. Suspect from the get go is Librarian Brenda Brooks (Wendy), who does not like the looks of
Seuss, Hogwarts, or Pantaloons for that matter. When Pantaloons loses his shadow, she’s taken away to a lineup with a bunch of pirates before none other than Capt. Sharp – yep, Capt. Hook. In the meantime, Tinker takes to the lab, where she and the lab rats discover it may not have been Brenda at all, but instead, the

crocodile. From here, red herrings and hijinks ensue until the gang discovers that Peter Pantaloon’s shadow was maliciously murdered by . . .

“Of course I’m not going to give that away,” Bonjorno said.

More than 60 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders tried out for one of six spots in the PEG show. The purpose of PEG is to provide opportunities for students and staff to get involved in music, theatre, sound and lighting technology, said fellow PEG director Clint Klose.

“The results of this program have been enormously successful,” he said. “Teachers and students alike have found tremendous benefits from their theatre experience. The success is measures in increased self-expression, the development of greater self-esteem, and the joy of sharing valuable experiences with the audience and the community at large.”

One of the pleasant surprises in this production, Bonjorno said, was how well the students have done. They very quickly memorized the script and have been diligently rehearsing several times a week since September.

“I’m really impressed with how they’ve grown,” Bonjorno said. “I’ve known a lot of these kids for the past three years, and they’ve really learned a lot over those years. Their timing has gotten better. They’ve definitely grown as actors and their talent has really grown.”

As for Klose, he said he hopes students are learning that one of the most challenging aspects of theatre is getting everyone working together.

“Writers, directors, composers and lyricists working with actors, set and costume designers, and choreographers. All of this (comes) together to form a final vision,” he said. “And when all of the pieces of the puzzle fit, the rewards are great. The puzzle would never be complete without every one of these aspects.”

The show runs today through Saturday with a 7 p.m. curtain at Concord High School. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for student and seniors. Tickets will be available at the door.

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