Peter Pan flies onto PACE stage

Dicke hopes traditional play has elements of surprise

Lacey Connell as Peter Pan and Stephen Day as Captain Hook in “Peter Pan” at PACE. Photo by Focus Tree
Ben Dicke is director of “Peter Pan” at PACE. Courtesy photo
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While there have been many onstage versions over the years since it was published in 1904, J.M. Barrie’s beloved tale of “Peter Pan,” the boy who didn’t want to grow up, will be true to the familiar Mary Martin version that appears occasionally on TV.

Now under Disney’s careful control, it has become part of our cultural fabric and when it fills the large stage at the PACE Center in Parker, directed by Ben Dicke and produced by Starkey Theatrix, a new generation of children will experience the delight of seeing Peter, Wendy, Michael, Nana, the pirates, Indians, Banks’ nursery and Never-Never Land.

“How do we make it our own? Everything is so expected,” Dicke asks.

With a strong professional cast, lavish costumes and a special set built by the PACE technical crew, it promises to be a magical production. Dicke said he started the rehearsal process with a movement workshop.

Lacey Connell, who has been playing Dorothy in “Wizard of Oz” at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, stood out in auditions and call-backs and will be the forever-young Peter — a role traditionally played by a woman. Veteran actor/singer Stephen Day will play the menacing Captain Hook.

Flying by Foy has been in the business of flying Peter Pan since Mary Martin played the part on Broadway in 1954 with the great Cyril Ritchard as her Captain Hook. Director Dicke said the Foy’s employee in charge in Parker has been in the business for 15 years and flew in from Las Vegas just to get the job done.

“We have the best musical director in town, David Nehls, a fine choreographer in Matthew Peters and Laurie Klaperich brought neat colors for costumes,” said Dicke, who is excited about how the performance is coming together.

“I hope it’s the Peter Pan you know and recognize — and haven’t seen before,” he commented. He imagines tickets will be in short supply by the second weekend.
Dicke’s MFA in Theatre Performance is from Roosevelt University in Chicago, a city where he performed before moving to Denver.

His family and fiancée are from this area, so Englewood will remain home base, although he and his fiancée have a New York apartment, where he will return once “Peter Pan” is up and running. He performs and directs on regional stages around the country.

In addition to his theatrical career, Dicke, 34, continues to be involved in distance running. “I’m still trying to trash my body,” he said. He runs distances from 5k to 100 miles on road and trail and is a proud member of not only Actor’s Equity Association, but of Rocky Mountain Road Runners.

If you go:

“Peter Pan” plays at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 24, 25, 31, Feb. 1, 8; 2 p.m. Jan. 25, 26, Feb. 1, 8, 9 at the PACE Center, 20000 Pikes Peak Ave., Downtown Parker. Tickets cost $16 to $25, with a 20 percent discount for children: 303-805-6800, PACEcenteronline.org.