Friday, September 11, 2009

6 hours, 44 minutes until Peter Pan premiere

After two nights of special performances, ACT's production of Peter Pan is set to premiere tonight at 7:30pm on the Mainstage. Peter Pan is ACT's biggest production ever: 20 adults, 20 children, one dog, special flying effects -- and one special director who probably knows more about Peter Pan than James M. Barrie himself, the man who created the iconic character more than 100 years ago.

You can't ask director Jerry Crouch a question about Peter Pan and expect a short answer. He is a self-proclaimed "walking encyclopedia of musical trivia," whose passion for Peter Pan stems from when he first saw the Mary Martin TV version of Peter Pan in 1955 when he was three years old. Jerry said his mother found him the next morning trying to fly out of the window! Yes, Jerry was "hooked" from the beginning.

With the premiere drawing near, we corralled Jerry for a special Q & A about the show.

So, how's Peter Pan coming along?

Peter Pan is right on target for opening night! This cast has been amazing - facing flying apparatus throw at them, fantastic set additions from Scott Allred nightly, and the wonderful costumes designs by Kate Russell. The 40 cast members are professionals, ready, willing and more than able to dazzle Asheville audiences with a record-breaking, historic run!

You've directed several musicals at ACT, but none as big as Peter Pan. What's the biggest challenge of this show, and what's going to make this show so special?

Big musicals always present a challenge in that you have three distinct disciplines going on at any one time: singing, dancing, and of course, acting. Peter Pan is universally known and is one of the most beloved stories in literature. What will make this production special is the uber talented cast making this story come to life on the ACT stage. Never has ACT offered such brilliant production values, coupled with award-winning special effects. The audiences will literally be enchanted beyond words.

You seem to know more about Peter Pan than, well, anyone! Tell us how you became so engrossed in Peter Pan?

Peter Pan and I share a special bond that started the first time I saw the Mary Martin TV version in 1955 when I was 3 years old. Music, dance, and the acting all spoke to me on a visceral level that immediately captured my toddler mind and has carried through to today. I have been introduced as "Jerry Crouch, the musical" -- and that is just fine by me. The Peter Pan trivia is a natural extension of my love of musical theatre - you have just been hearing more of Peter Pan since we are involved with it. If I was doing Oliver or Caberet, I would be just as involved with their specific histories. I'm just a walking encyclopedia of musical theatre trivia.

Peter Pan is the boy who doesn't want to grow up? How about you?

I am very much Peter Pan, having played him in this musical version many years ago. The character of Peter represents the wild, non-repressed child in all of us who refuses to bow down to societal pressures. That pretty much describes my life by anyone who knows me. My brother once described me to his perspective father-in-law like this: "Jerry is not like anyone else you will ever meet." That individuality has served me well and allowed me to straddle both the hard-line corporate world for many years while maintaining my wild "dramatic" streak too. Being a schizophrenic Gemini helps.

Will you please share with us five bits of Peter Pan trivia?

(You will have to wait for tomorrow for this....we need to let Jerry direct tonight's show!)

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