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Stamford students learn life lessons in ‘Peter Pan’ performance

October 3, 2018

STAMFORD — The Summer Theatre of New Canaan’s “Peter Pan” embodied the spirit of childhood.

Actors Omen Sade and Sarah White kicked off the performance with a pulsing drum beat and a chant for students to sing along. The two actors kept the Stillmeadow Elementary School audience engaged with singalongs, raps, hip-hop music and even water bottle spray meant to mimic the ocean. All the while, the two used the power of reusable props to transport children to Neverland. And costumes like a reversible flatbrim with “Pan” written on it, hand-puppets and a golden hook created a full cast of characters in the school auditorium.

But the fun gave way to more serious themes and discussion about bullying, feelings and making good choices once the hour-long performance wrapped up.

The show, which debuted this summer with the Summer Theatre of New Canaan, is part of the group’s effort to expand yearlong programming with touring educational shows in schools. Stillmeadow students were the first to see the show in its condensed format for schools. The actors will also perform in Greenwich, Darien, New Canaan and Milford before taking the show to the Mercury Theater in Chicago for two months.

Executive Producer Ed Libonati said the company began touring schools last year with “Robin Hood” and a show called “Balloonacy.” They were so well-received that the company decided to commission another show, “Peter Pan,” from “Bros Do Prose,” a playwriting company, co-founded by Sade that adapts literature into interactive two-person shows.

“We produce new works that are educational for students today and what they relate to,” artistic director Melody Libonati said.

In “Bros Do Prose,” the backstory is told of Captain Hook, who was bullied as a child and how that affected him as an adult. It also incorporates hip-hop music with the actors portraying two high schoolers telling the story in a music classroom.

The interactive element is key, Ed Libonati said.

“You don’t want to play down to them,” he said. “You want to play to them and their strengths.”

According to Stillmeadow administrative intern Iuliana Roata, the messages align with the RULER program from Yale that teaches students how to recognize and regulate their emotions.

“Our focus is making good choices, being able to regulate and making responsible decisions to be ready for learning,” Roata said.

erin.kayata@stamfordadvocate.com; (203) 964-2265; @erin_kayata

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