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Encore performance offers a new spin on classic fairy tale

4/11/2013

In its attic-inspired performance of "Peter Pan," Vox Lumiere gave a Hays audience insight into why the little miscreant refused to grow up. If childhood could come with flashy choreography, hip costumes and dreamy sepia-toned silent movie stars, why would anyone want to grow up?

Attendance at the Tuesday Encore Series event was a bit skimpy and could be attributed to a somewhat freakish spring storm in which hail stones, gusty winds and freezing drizzle blew through town. But those who defied the urge to stay warm and cozy at home likely found a performance unlike anything they'd seen before.

Created by Kevin Saunders Hayes, award winning composer, songwriter and producer, Vox Lumiere's performance melded original music scores, dance and silent film together to bring Neverland to life. As the 1924 silent film "Peter Pan" provided a backdrop, a theatrical rock experience played center stage.

Hayes was inspired to bring silent movies to life after rummaging through a bin and purchasing dusty VHS silent movie tapes for $1. Other Vox Lumiere shows include "Phantom of the Opera," "Hunchback" and "Metropolis."

The Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center provided a relaxed and inviting setting as actors mingled, flashing photos and offering candy to audience members before the production. A somewhat deconstructed set gave a feeling neighborhood kids were ready to launch some great impromptu show.

With trippy music and sound effects timed impeccably to the silent movie, those neighbor kids put on a visual riot that breathed new life into the silent film "Peter Pan."

It was a performance that might not have appealed to the entire Beach/Schmidt audience, but to those open to the experience, the night offered an edgy take on an old-time favorite. And judging by the applause and laughter, there was a sense the audience was well on-board with the unique performance somewhere during the second act.

The splash sound effects timed to pirates forced to walk the plank, punctuated "The Final Dual," while actors onstage shot slingshots. Unexpected comedy was tossed in for good measure with a belching crocodile and beach-babe mermaids.

In their fuzzy animal costumes, the silent movie Lost Boys offered a glimpse into the imaginations of little boys. As they protested the idea of growing up, one heart-breaking thought kept creeping up: The youngest of those curly-headed Lost Boys, if still living, would be at least 95 years old.

I wonder what those Lost Boys and the entire Darling family would have thought if they could hear Vox Lumiere's funky music and glimpse the hot choreography that seemed at times to jump directly off the silent movie screen and onto the Beach/Schmidt stage. I would hope they would embrace the new dimension the show offered and get a kick out of being the focus of a new generation of silent movie enthusiasts.

Dawne Leiker is a reporter at The Hays Daily News.

dleiker@dailynews.net