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‘Peter Pan’ show set for this weekend in Hayden

Peter Pan

Peter Pan, played by William Lighthizer, and Wendy, played by Alli Ingols-Irwin, react after finding a way to escape an island surrounded by rising waters in a scene from "Peter Pan & Wendy." Class Acts Productions will present the play at 7 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday in the Hayden Secondary Schools auditorium.
John F. Russell

— Dylan Reedy, a seventh-grader at Hayden Secondary Schools, knows there's a little bit of Peter Pan in all of us. There is a little bit of desire to never grow up, to ride through life on the wings of adventure and imagination, and as we get older, there's nostalgia for the childlike innocence of our past.

Dylan is one of the older students in the Class Act Productions winter play, "Peter Pan & Wendy," and as he watches his younger counterparts, he's confronted with the conflict of life in Neverland, where children stay children forever.

"It is kind of scary," said Dylan, who plays the pirate Captain Hook, symbolizing adults who have lost touch with their inner wonder. "Growing up is a shock to everyone when it happens.

"No child wants to grow up, but (the play) also shows what you miss out on if you don't grow up."

The show, directed by teacher Kathy Deepe and featuring Hayden students from elementary through high school, debuts at 7 p.m. Friday at the high school auditorium. There will be a matinee at 3 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $7 for adults and $3 for children.

Elementary school students authentically play the lead characters Peter Pan, Wendy and the lost children, staying true to the original screenplay by J.M. Barrie.

Dylan said older students could have played the parts, but it's better to have "the real thing."

Alli Ingols-Irwin is in fourth grade, and she's not sure how much older she wants to get.

"It's kind of scary growing up," said the petite blond girl as she sat in at rehearsal Tuesday.

But her character, Wendy, also finds that growing pains are just part of the wild adventure of childhood and adulthood.

Wen­dy travels to Neverland with Pe­ter, fighting off pirates and crocodiles, saving princesses and watching Peter revel in his life in infinite childhood adventure.

But she eventually goes back to reality, returning to Neverland annually even after she grows into a woman.

"It's really nerve-racking, but fun," Alli said about playing a lead role. "I really like memorizing my lines and seeing the sets and getting to wear the costumes. It feels exciting when you finally get to do it."

Next to Alli in the auditorium sat William Lighthizer, a fifth-grader who landed the lead role of Peter Pan. William said playing the young part of Peter was a joy.

But in the play, Wendy's character opens his eyes to a reality that even Peter Pan is not immune to: We all grow up.

"I think he learns that even though he's never growing up, that no matter what he does, he's going to grow up on the inside," William said.