Children dress, join with Peter Pan cast

Stephanie Gomes
In back, from left, are Haley Armitage and Emma Dawdy. Cancer survivor Tess Swearingen, 4, dressed as Tinkerbell and posed with some of the cast members. Cast members in the play offered children a chance to dress as their favorite characters and pose for a picture.

With most theatrical productions, costumes come hand in hand with the acting on stage.

But, during Friday and Saturday’s production of “Peter Pan” at Morton Junior High School, the audience saw more than just actors wearing Peter Pan and Tinkerbell garb.  

The idea of inviting children in the audience to dress up with the actors was the brainchild of 13-year-old Haley Armitage, who played Peter Pan in the production.

“She asked if it was OK,” said director Maggie McMenamin. “It sounded like a great idea.”

Armitage said many of her family members and friends had young children who already owned Halloween costumes from the popular Disney movie.

“We’re always trying to get more people to come to the performances,” she said. “(The children) get to take pictures with the cast.”

Six children dressed up and joined the cast members on stage, including 4-year-old cancer survivor Tess Swearingen of Morton.

Each child posed for a picture on stage following the performance while sitting on the actor who played the St. Bernard, Nana.

“Tess is now cancer free,” said Sarah Dawdy, grandmother of Armitage and friend of the Swearingens. “It was neat that Tess was there with Haley. We’ve been very blessed to be a part of her recovery.”

McMenamin said the cast and crew worked very hard on the production since starting rehearsals in November.

“They’ve been great,” she said, adding that they had a lot of fun. “If you don’t have fun, what’s the point?”

Armitage — who also is a nationally renowned author — said it was her first time performing in the lead of a production.

“I’ve always like acting,” Armitage said. “Originally, I wanted to be Wendy, but then I saw Peter Pan’s lines. ... He’s kind of all over the place, and he’s got a lot of personality.”

Armitage said there are some similarities between writing and acting.

“Both with writing and acting, you need to know how the character feels to be able to portray them,” she said.

Armitage said she was proud of the performance.

“We’ve all put a lot into it,” she said. “I think we gave 100 percent.”