J.M. Barrie's beloved Peter and Wendy — more commonly known as Peter Pan — was published 100 years ago this year. And TheatreWorks' upcoming production of The Lost Boys, based on the novel, has a cast of actors who aren't far from being centenarians themselves.
In the novel, the Lost Boys are children who fall out of their strollers in Kensington Gardens. When no one comes to claim them, they're carried away to Neverland, where they live with Peter Pan. In TheatreWorks' telling, the Victorian nursery is replaced by a veterans assisted living center, and the Lost Boys are now old men looking back on their adventures.
TheatreWorks artistic director Murray Ross, who wrote and directed this adaptation of the story — "Peter Pan re-imagined for geezers" — wanted to showcase the talents of "a loose crew of great old boys who have been working well with us for years." In telling the backstory, he's faithful to the original text, and his adaptation has all the familiar characters, including Wendy, Tinker Bell, the crocodile, pirates and a swaggering Captain Hook, played by Bob Rais. Khris Lewin plays Peter Pan, while Susan Dawn Carson narrates.
An old-timer himself, Ross is well-acquainted with aging, and doesn't necessarily equate it with growing up: "Most of the guys that I know," he says, "at least a part of them, never does grow up." He adds that old age is often depicted as entering a "second childhood" and a tendency to escape into dreams and fantasy, which is what Neverland is all about.
A veterans nursing home seemed like a perfect setting for Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, reasons Ross, because "guys in the Army, in the military, they look back on their past as soldiers. That's what our Lost Boys would do, too."