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The Scarlet & Black

It’s never not fun in Neverland

Zack+Walsh%0AFrom+left%3A+Henry+Coen+%6025%2C+co-director+of+the+Neverland+Players%2C+and+Elena+Busick+%6025.%0AThe+Neverland+Players+continued+their+positive+energy+throughout+the+rehearsal+process.
Zack Walsh
Zack Walsh From left: Henry Coen `25, co-director of the Neverland Players, and Elena Busick `25. The Neverland Players continued their positive energy throughout the rehearsal process.

Supersonic beavers, a primordial princess and a sly Among Us reference all await the audience-goers attending this semester’s Neverland Players show. With a cast packed full of musical and improvisational talents, this show fulfills the Players’ goal of telling children’s stories while elevating the creativity of their performers, according to current members.

The Neverland Players are a long-running organization at Grinnell that works with young children in the community, in part through the Grinnell Area Arts Council, to transform their written stories into a live theater production. As an organization that rotates its leadership every semester, this show marks the directorial debuts of Elke Calhoun `25 and Henry Coen `25.

“It’s been fun to see the other side because we’ve just been in the cast,” said Coen. “I think this semester, we have a ton of fun stories and fun people.”

Attendees can look forward to seeing Maggie Morris `26 act in a two-person skit involving friendship and international peace between a cheetah and a horse. As a returning cast member for this production, she said that the new perspectives every semester brings are exciting.

“It’s fun to see how each directorship influences the show,” she said, “the energy is brought up a little, which is good.”

Morris and Alyce Tanner `26 said that they joined the Players in the first semester of their first year as a way to get involved on campus, and are now in their third semesters with the group. For Tanner, the combination of a laid-back environment and a creative, dedicated cast has kept her returning.

“There’s a really awesome part of Neverland that is sort of amateur and silly and goofy, but then it’s also really cool, and we have people who are really good at acting and singing. It’s a balance,” she said.

Tanner will be portraying a ‘shy knight’ at one point in this weekend’s show.

Alyce Tanner `26 acts silly as she performs creative adaptations of children’s stories. (Zack Walsh)

Calhoun and Coen both emphasized the makeup of the cast as something that viewers can look forward to this year. This year’s team consists of several members of the Grinnell Singers, Infinite Coincidence Improv and Almost Always Improv in greater numbers than Neverland membership has reflected in previous years.

“Get ready for the songs,” said Calhoun, “it’s going to be delicious.”

By coming into this semester with a cast that has more performance experience, Morris said that the group was able to jump right into the creative process.

“I think my first year, there were a good amount of new people, so a good chunk of time was teaching people, ‘What is Neverland? What does a story frame mean?’” she said. “But these new people, they just jumped right into the thick of it, which means we had more time to dig into the details of each skit.”

Tanner said that the cast had a chance to sit down with the children and discuss their stories at the beginning of the school year, which gave them a better idea of how to best bring the stories to life. For the most part, the children are excited to see their ideas acted out on stage, said Tanner.

Morris, also working at an after-school program in town, recalled one instance in which she told a boy who wrote for the Players that his story was one of those selected for the show.

“He’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, they chose my story? I can’t believe they chose my story!’ And he’s telling all his friends, ‘Neverland chose my story!’” said Morris. “He was so excited.”

Each Neverland show is composed of two halves. In the first half, groups of cast members perform smaller skits based on individual stories written by the children. The second half consists of an ‘epic,’ which combines several stories written by the children into a full musical tale.

There’s a really awesome part of Neverland that is sort of amateur and silly and goofy, but then it’s also really cool, and we have people who are really good at acting and singing. It’s a balance.

— Alyce Tanner `26

The ‘pirates-versus-fairies’ theme of this semester’s epic, according to Calhoun, is in line with the common thread of fantasy and whimsy the Players saw in a few different stories. Past epic themes have included Minecraft and centaurs.

“I’m really excited for a kind of fantastical one [epic] that really feels like Neverland,” said Calhoun.

The Neverland Players will be performing in the Wall on the first floor of Bucksbaum Center for the Arts at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 29, 2:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30, and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 1. Free tickets will be available at the first-floor Bucksbaum box office from 12 to 5 p.m. –– or until ticket supply runs out –– today, Friday, Sept. 29.



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Eleanor Corbin, Editor in Chief
Eleanor is a fourth-year political science major with a concentration in statistics. Nine out of ten times she is ready and willing to discuss embroidery, types of loose-leaf tea, and metal music. Best approached with her favorite candy, cherry Twizzler bites, in hand.
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