Arlington dancer soars as Peter Pan

Peter Pan
Benjamen Cheng shows his Peter Pan style. Photo by Dana Goode,

Briarcrest Middle School students recently closed a successful six-performance run of “Disney’s Peter Pan, Jr.” on the stage at the new Dr. Willard R. Sparks Chapel and Performing Arts Center.

Seventh-grader Benjamin Cheng of Arlington portrayed Peter Pan, using his experience as a nationally ranked dancer in the flight choreography as well as the fight choreography as he battled Captain Hook.

Other cast members included Hayden Gray as Hook, Cooper Neal as Smee, Kate Basse as Tinkerbell, Avery Veteto as Wendy, real-life brothers Brock and Will Draper as on-stage brothers Michael and John Darling.

Flying by Foy installed the flying cables and trained adults to pull the students into the air in songs such as, “You Can Fly.”

Briarcrest coaches A.J. Vollmer and Carly Powers and assistant director Clayton Williams were among those adults who were trained under the supervision of technical director Ryan Stone. Other flying technicians included parents of cast members.

Parents also assisted in the construction of the set. Audiences saw the Darling Nursery transform into Hook’s ship with a series of rotating platforms guided by a middle-school stage crew, directed by eighth-grade stage manager Allyson Vogel.

“As much as possible, we repurposed set pieces from former Briarcrest productions,” said the show’s director and middle school art teacher, Melody Weintraub. She said the production used materials from a “Fiddler on the Roof” production.

Students dressed in pirate, American Indian and fairytale regalia sang and danced across the stage under the direction of musical director Justin Pepper and choreographer Tamara Prince Parrish.

Ashley Whitten Kopera recycled items from prom dresses to thrift store finds to create costumes.

Briarcrest teacher Angel Neal trained a middle school team on the use of stage makeup.

Principal Sharon Watson commented, “Now that the Pixie Dust has settled, I just wanted to thank you for all you did to make this year’s Middle School Musical such a ‘soaring’ success. You guys continue to amaze me!”