FAIRFIELD — Courtney King has appeared in several Missouri Street Theatre productions, most recently in 2013’s “Les Miserables” as Eponine.
Her debut as the lead role for the award-winning Solano County theater company will be as the title character in their latest show, “Peter Pan.”
King is quick to give a tip of the feathered cap to Mary Martin, who won a Tony Award playing Peter Pan on Broadway.
“If it wasn’t for her, women like me wouldn’t have a place in musical theater,” King said. “She definitely brought a brassy, tomboy, bigger-than-life personality to the stage.”
King was concerned that the harness used to create the illusion of Peter Pan flying would constrict her breathing and consequently her ability to sing. It did not, so she was able to relax and enjoy the sensation.
“I just let the flying happen. It’s much more natural than I thought it would be,” King said. “I hope that we are able to take those who come to see the show on a journey of wonder and magic and all those things that sometimes we lose as we get older.”
One of King’s castmates, Madilyn Morrow, who is playing the role of Jane, turns 14 Saturday, but already has Broadway experience under her belt. She performed for 10 months in “Matilda the Musical.”
“I had been auditioning for different Broadway shows like ‘Annie’ and ‘Billy Elliot’ since 2009 and then ‘Matilda’ came around in 2012,” Morrow said. “I made so many new friends and learned so much.”
Morrow also played the same role she is doing for Missouri Street Theatre in a “Peter Pan” production in Livermore, so flying is old hat.
“To fly on stage was a dream of mine and I get to do it again,” she said. “That rush when you go up is so amazing.”
Morrow is grateful for the opportunity to perform with her younger brother, who is also in the cast, and said her first experience with Missouri Street Theatre has been positive.
“I am loving it so much. Dae (Spering), the director, is phenomenal and she is so funny. The cast is nice and helpful and kind – sort of like a big family,” Morrow said.
Spering is also no stranger to “Peter Pan.” In fact, when a friend, Sara Pedri, was making an independent film called “Tick Tock Boom Clap” a few years ago that featured actors performing a production of the show in the story, Spering was able to provide several locals as cast members.
Still, she prefers the stage to the screen.
“When we perform, people cheer. We finish, hit our poses and they clap. In film, when you are done they yell, ‘Cut,’ then kind of yell at you for everything you did wrong. Then you have to do it again. I like the instant gratification of theater,” Spering said.
Flying by Foy is the Las Vegas-based company that created and patented the techniques used to make the onstage flying seem natural, realistic and artistic. They originated the techniques that go back to Mary Martin’s Broadway performances in 1954.
“The Foy flight director had done 99 productions of ‘Peter Pan’ and never had anyone nail Peter’s first flying stage entrance on their first try, but Courtney did,” Spering said. “We have actors who have flown before like Madilyn, so he created new flight patterns and created a trick for Wendy, Michael and John that’s never been done before. When people join our theater family, they kind of feed off our energy and get inspired.”
When “Peter Pan” closes, the flight director will be back to help with the flying in Missouri Street Theatre’s next production, The Who’s “Tommy.”
According to Spering, while the flying wows audiences, what really connects is the timeless story.
“I think everyone knows someone who just doesn’t want to grow up,” she said. “I believe we all have at least one Peter Pan in our lives.”
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at [email protected].