By Judy Wakefield
---- — A popular summer camp for local drama kids is helping five performers soar in a big way this summer.
Summer Theatre Ensemble will be putting five of its young charges in the air — literally — as “Peter Pan The Musical” flies onto the Collins Center stage at Andover High School next weekend.
But before Peter, Wendy and the rest can fly off to Never Land to visit the charming world of make-believe, they have to practice theatrical flying. That’s happening this week at rehearsals.
Producer Elly Seavey of Andover hired Flying by Foy of Las Vegas to teach the technical crew how it’s done. A representative of the flight professionals is in town this week to show them the ropes.
“They are the best in the business,” Seavey said.
The young actors and crew members are thrilled at the opportunity. While zip line recreation may be getting more popular for teens, zipping on stage is new for this cast.
“I have never flown on stage before and I’m psyched. ... It’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Meg Dwinell, 17, of Tewksbury, a senior at Central Catholic High School in Lawrence who is playing Peter Pan.
Ava Grieco of Andover, who plays Wendy, agreed. “I’ve jumped on a trampoline, but that’s as close to flying as I got,” Grieco said.
It’s the second time Summer Theatre Ensemble has staged “Peter Pan” and Flying By Foy also helped the 2006 cast successfully take flight on stage.
Director Susan Choquette, who is also the drama director at Andover High School, said she has confidence in the tech crew to duplicate the stage feat again.
“It’s magical and really draws the audience in, I think,” Choquette said of the flying scenes.
Choquette said she herself will never forget seeing Olympic gymnast Cathy Rigby in a production of “Peter Pan” and how the aerial effects captivated the audience.
“(Rigby) flew over the audience at the curtain call and the audience was mesmerized. I remember that,” said Choquette, who is directing Summer Theatre Ensemble for the third year.
While the aerial scenes in Andover’s production are sure to be memorable, the production elements don’t stop there. Summer Theatre Ensemble’s cast of 32 performers is promising plenty of highlights as the troupe re-creates the well-known story about a boy who wishes to never grow up.
Now in its 15th year, the four-week summer, musical theater arts intensive offered by the Andover Department of Community Services is open to students entering sixth through 12th grades in the fall. Past shows have included “Legally Blonde,” “The Wiz,” “West Side Story,” “Grease” and “Hairspray.”
This is the first time the theater program has repeated a show. Choquette, who loves doing summer theater, said “Peter Pan” was a natural repeat. She said it fits her criteria for a successful summertime production.
“A summer show should be entertaining for everyone and fun,” she said. “People are looking to escape and to be entertained.”
IF YOU GO
What: “Peter Pan The Musical” presented by Andover’s Summer Theatre Ensemble
When: Friday and Saturday, Aug. 2 and 3, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, Aug. 4, 4 p.m.
Where: Collins Center, Andover High School, Shawsheen Road
How: Tickets $20 adults, $12 students/seniors; available in Andover at Orange Leaf and Learning Express, Mad Maggie’s in North Andover, and the Andover Department of Community Services office. Visit www.andoverdcs.com.