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Zion Opera Workshop Junior to Present “Disney’s Peter Pan Junior” as its Second Production

After a successful debut performance of “Willy Wonka Kids” in May of 2017, Zion Opera Workshop’s children’s theatre group, “ZOW Junior” is set to perform its second musical, “Disney’s Peter Pan Junior” on Mother’s Day weekend.

This production is under the direction of Zion Opera Workshop veteran, Laura Cressley, joined by fellow ZOW veteran Adam Reichard as the stage director. Both directors have appeared in over 10 theatre productions with Zion Opera Workshop over the years and attribute their love for musical theatre to their involvement in the group at a young age. However, with the exception of occasional roles for children in Broadway shows, there was really no opportunity to include the youth of our community in the usual ZOW productions, typically only involving individuals in 9th grade and above. ZOW Junior gives the youth of our community a chance to be involved with ZOW and experience the thrill of theatre before entering high school.

The extremely talented cast for this show is comprised of over 40 children, ranging from 7 to 14 years old. Since auditions, held during the second weekend of March, the cast has been at work at least twice a week learning songs, dances, and lines to bring the classic story of “the boy who never grew up” to life!

Based on the Disney film and J.M. Barrie’s play, Peter Pan Junior transports audiences to the Darling household, where Wendy (played by Jim Thorpe 6th grader, Allie Marciante) is busy telling stories to her younger brothers, John (4th grader, Abigail Ehrig) and Michael (2rd grader, Estella Bongo). When their parents (played by LAMS students Jared Oswald and Brielle Gosselin) tell Wendy that she must grow up and stop telling stories, the children are saddened, but they awake to a surprise when Peter Pan (played by JT 6th grader, Lillian Heydt) stops by to find his shadow that their dog (and nursemaid), Nana, (played by 5th grader Kate Newsted) stole from him the night before. Pan and Tinker Bell (played by 5th grader, Mylee Hauser) climb through the bedroom window and help the children fly to Neverland, where they will never have to grow up.

Upon their arrival in Neverland, the children find that Pan’s arch nemesis, Captain Hook, (Jared Oswald) his first mate, Smee, (Kate Newsted) and the rest of the pirate crew on the Jolly Roger, (consisting of Brielle Gosselin, Mary Kate McCormick, Daphne Gowin, Jezelle Stribula, Amanda Gowin, Maya Schweitzer, Ilana Schweitzer, Alfred Bravo, Tahlulah Bravo, and Gavin Hoffman) are trying to shoot cannons at Peter and the Darling children. Peter uses his quick wit and ability to fly to outsmart Hook and escape unharmed (with some help from the tick-tocking Crocodile, played by Emmalyse Vavra).

The children then encounter the “Lost Boys,” Peter’s friends, who came to Neverland after “falling out of their cribs” and are at constant war with the Indian Braves. Lost Boys are played by Claire Foeller (Cubby), Anne Gilsbach (Skunk), Sadie Strack (Hop), Lauren Sheckler (Fox) and Karina Wisocky and Kaia Mehnert (Raccoon Twins). Named Indian Braves are played by Olivia Erickson, Selene Stribula, and Colleen Gilsbach, with the role of Chief Tiger Bamboo being played by 6th grader, Liliana Nuzzo and the princess, Tiger Lily, being portrayed by 5th grader, Ava Bongo.

Rounding out the inhabitants of Neverland are Tinker Bell’s spunky fairy friends (played by Alli Foeller, Layla Bravo, Sarah Schlough, Susan Gilsbach, Briana Didea, Delaney Erickson, Nicole Kester, Madalyn Horning, and Natalia Brady) and the beautiful mermaids of Mermaid Lagoon (Vivian Zimmerman, Lilly Andreas, Gabrielle Hoffman, and Maci DoVico).

ZOW Technical Directors Pati and Duane Reichard are once again helping with props and set pieces for ZOW Junior, and costumes are being created by ZOW costumer, Nancy Keiser, and parent volunteer, Wendy Hauser. ZOW members Amy Shelly, Casi Short, and Bethany Evans and ZOW director, Brad Cressley, have also been assisting during rehearsals, working with groups of cast members on lines and songs and keeping these young actors entertained.

Shows are to be performed on May 12th at 7:00 pm and May 13th at 2:00 pm. Tickets are only $5.00 a piece and can be purchased from any cast member, from Carbon County Music and More on 2nd Street in Lehighton, and can be put on hold by messaging Zion Opera Workshop Junior on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ZOWJunior.