Photo courtesy of MTSU News
Story by Lucas Stepp/ Contributing writer
After nearly five years of trying, the Middle Tennessee State University Theatre department will finally learn to fly to Neverland this fall, and one lucky young woman will be able to fulfill the role of her dreams.
“Peter Pan” will being running this weekend at Tucker Theatre, and it has been a long time coming. It will become the second of two big Broadway plays to have been performed in the last year, the previous one being “West Side Story.”
Kristi Shamburger, the director of the musical, has plenty of experience in the professional performance world. A professional performer since 1988, she has been working at MTSU since 2010. In that time, Kristi has worked on several different plays and musicals with three big ones being “West Side Story,” “Into the Woods” and “Les Miserables.”
With short blonde hair and a youthful smile, Kristi easily makes the room more comforting.
She’s glad Peter Pan’s time has come.
“We had been asking to do it for years, but it really came down to the budget,” said Shamburger. “Fortunately, this year we had the funds to be able to do so.”
One of the things that makes “Peter Pan” so magical yet expensive to produce is the rigging system, which has to be rented, so the characters can fly.
“The flying contract is going to cost around $9,000 dollars,” said Production Manager Justin Reed, who has nine years of experience at MTSU. He has helped on nearly every play and musical that MTSU has produced since his time here.
Reed, who has dark freckles and short brown hair, gives off a very professional vibe, but the Lego collection in his office shows off that he still has a youthful side to him. Perfect considering this semester’s play choice.
Parker Chase, a transfer sophomore from North Carolina State in Raleigh, absolutely screams the role of Peter Pan when you first see her. “She is quite perfect for the part,” said Shamburger. “She can sing beautifully and she can act.” With short brown hair and a fair skin complexion, Parker is physically a good match to play the lead role since she is around the same height as Peter. Constantly smiling, the easygoing Parker shares this trait with the boy who never wanted to grow up.
A native of Memphis, Parker has been doing theatre since she was 9 years old starting in elementary school.
“I took a break in middle school for about two years, but in high school I jumped back in head first and did about 15 shows over the course of four years,” said Parker. “Then I went to North Carolina State where I did three shows there, and then I transferred here and now I’m doing ‘Peter Pan.'” At her previous school, Parker performed the stage play rendition of Jekyll and Hyde and also Fiddler on the Roof, and she transferred to MTSU to pursue her love of the stage due to NCS not having an actual theatre major.
Luckily for her, Parker also has some experience with fly-rig systems for her part in “Peter Pan.”
“I’m a circus performer. I have experience in aerial silks and aerial trapeze,” said Parker. The key difference that Parker will face in doing ‘Peter Pan’ is that she is will have to use a harness instead of a net.
Parker said she was a “wreck” and a “hot mess” during auditions, despite all her previous experience in theatre, but after she received a call back she felt much better. Parker, who went into auditions focusing on the role of Peter, said, “It’s like my dream role, which is why I was so stressed out about it.”
By the time she found out she won the part, Parker was ecstatic but exhausted from the stress.
She thought to herself, “Yes! I’m going to go home and go to bed now.”
Parker is looking forward to two things when playing Peter: flying, and playing a part which perfectly suits her.
“I’ve played a lot of small boys in the past. I really like playing little boys because it’s everything that I was when I was little and young. Because you’re a little kid and everyone is an adult then no one is going to judge you for it,” said Parker, who’s excitement for the role practically bubbles at the surface.
The doors for the show and the way to Neverland will officially open tonight at 7 p.m. for everyone. You can catch the performance the each day this weekend: Friday, Nov. 4; Saturday, Nov. 5; and Sunday, Nov. 6.
Tickets are available at the box office, and you can head to the Tucker Theatre calendar for more information.