Broadway In Chicago's presentation of Peter Pan is visually stunning and doesn't have a bad seat in the house.
Peter Pan is being staged at what is being called the Chicago Tribune Freedom Center North, but is really a huge tent, a la Cirque du Soleil, but has a huge secret. It's surrounded by its very own "Neverland" where you can arrive early and grab a bite to eat as well as peruse the gift shop. I had a nice Caprese Wrap and we grabbed some popcorn for the show. There's also adult beverages to get you in the mood for the show.
It was REALLY cold on opening night but the view over the river was nice and there was plenty of seating outside. It was fun to watch the tour boats turnaround as we waved at the tourists. There's no heat in the tent so if it's chilly outside it's gonna be cool inside too - so be sure to take a jacket.
So enough about the outside of the show! When we walked into the theater, I looked around and to be honest with you, it doesn't appear as though there is a bad seat in the entire house. I bought my tickets on the first day they were released and we had great seats in the second row, section C right in the middle. We were just below eye level of the actors and I think I caught a few of them looking at me! But even seats in the back row looked good because the theater is in the round and there's no posts in the way. Being close was nice, but we missed some of the action because it was blocked by the set pieces - higher up may be better.
It was a fun opening night, the audience was energetic but not overbearing and there was a nice mix of families with kids, couples, high schoolers (I think we saw a Kurt wannabe) and a sprinkling of gay couples in the crowd. We all sat and waited in anticipation for the show to begin and once it did we were in awe.
The show was a little dark, one of the pirates gets his throat slit early on in the show and after intermission Tiger Lily shows her appreciation of being saved by Peter by performing an almost inappropriate "dance" for him. Honestly, I looked at my partner and said "really?" there were a few cat calls from the audience and I'm sure that more than one dad was glad that he had brought his kids to the show.....they played it all off by Peter acting the exact same way that I would if someone sent me a stripper for my birthday - pleasant but not appreciative.
So what makes this Peter Pan better than any of the others? Well besides being "in the round" it's also an immersive show as 360 degree panoramic videos are projected on the inside of the tent creating an almost life like visual experience. The first time that it kicked in for when the kids flew off to Neverland I think the audience pulled in a collective gasp, clutched their pearls and then gave a brief round of applause in awe and wonder. It was absolutely stunning - at one point when they were flying around London I had to close my eyes because the flying was so real feeling I felt nauseous.
The cast was very good, for their first "official" night of performing they were pretty tight and seemed as though the show was running fast. The transition between flying and being "on land" was seamless (almost everyone, except the pirates, wore flying harnesses so they could hook up at a moments notice and fly off to Neverland!) But Tinkerbell really stole the show, I'll just tell you that she's got a dirty mouth and she is not the Disney Tinkerbell you've grown to love. This Tinkerbell is more like how Barrie wanted her, a bit rough around the edges and wearing her heart on her sleeve in her affections toward Peter. After she consumed the poison meant for Peter the entire audience, not just the kids, whispered and then shouted "I Believe in Faeries" and after the noise died down I stood up and said "Well thank you" (Not really, but I did whisper it in my partners ear.)
You already know the story of Peter Pan but this show really lets you fall in love with it all over again and give you a totally new perspective on this story that you thought you knew.
Broadway in Chicago's presentation of Peter Pan is playing now through June 19th with twice daily shows on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday as well as Thursday and Friday evenings. Tickets range from $20 to $100 and there are several "add-on premium packages" you can purchase. Click here for tickets and to watch the video trailer - sorry I couldn't embed it here for you.