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story.lead_photo.caption Cast members of Tiger Theatre Company rehearse for their production of "Peter Pan," at the Sullivan Performing Arts Center. The Tiger Theatre Company partnered with Flying by Foy to bring flight to the performance. There will be a cast meet and greet on Saturday, Jan. 25, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Photo by Hunt Mercier / Texarkana Gazette.

TEXARKANA, Texas — Fly to Neverland this weekend and enjoy the classic, enchanting J.M. Barrie tale of "Peter Pan" with a Texas High School Tiger Theatre Co. production of this beloved musical.

Tiger Theatre Co.'s young thespians will perform "Peter Pan" at 7 p.m. today and Saturday, then again at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Sullivan Performing Arts Center, 3941 Summerhill Road.

And for this production, the audience will even see characters flying on stage, just as they did in the famed Disney animated movie from 1953.

In addition to these three shows, Tiger Theatre Co. holds a Peter Pan Cast Meet & Greet from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday in the Sullivan's foyer. It provides a chance to meet the characters and have them sign an autograph book.

Texas High's theater teacher Melissa Newton, who's in charge of a vast crew of about 90 students for this production, says it's a fairly elaborate show. Students involved hail not only from the high school, but also from elementary and middle schools at Texarkana Independent School District.

In addition to the expert flying tutelage from theatrical flying company Flying by Foy, Paris Junior College's drama department taught students how to stage combat sequences. Several campus departments have also pitched in for this production. Graphic arts created the autograph books.

Members of the Tiger Theatre Company walk down the aisle rehearsing the pirates' entrance for their musical, "Peter Pan."
Photo by Hunt Mercier/Texarkana Gazette.

"We have Flying by Foy that has come in and is doing the flying sequences. We started that Saturday night," Newton said, noting this company originally did this on Broadway. They do this all over the country and abroad, too.

The audience will see traditional "Peter Pan" flying, a pretty extensive spectacle on stage that's part of the story. Meet characters like the Darlings during a rendition of "I'm Flying." Iconic characters like Wendy, John, Michael, Captain Hook, Smee and Tiger Lily are all part of the show.

"It's really a lot of fun to see and to watch," Newton said about the flying. Her students were nervous at first, she admits, but they've enjoyed it, even though they're in a harness for a while.

Her cast and crew have devoted many long hours of rehearsal to the show. The youngest cast member is only 5 years old. Newton often includes younger performers in their musical to instill in them an appreciation for theater.

"These kids have been going through two months of choreography sessions, music sessions, blocking sessions," Newton said. "We've added in flight sessions. Elaborate costumes. You name it, we're doing it."

And about the story itself, the drama teacher said, "What the audience needs to understand is this is very much more in line with the original version that was written." It's like the classic, traditional Broadway version of the story. Expect it to be different than the Disney movie.

"There are scenes in the movie that don't happen here. There are songs in the movie that don't happen here," Newton said. "But the audience is going to love it."

(Tickets: $15 adult/$5 student at the door, $10 adult/$4 student advance and online. Get tickets at www.ttcths.booktix.com. The cost is $5 per child or attendee for the Peter Pan Cast Meet & Greet. More info: Contact Melissa Newton at 903-794-3891, ext. 2408 or [email protected])

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