West taking community to Neverland with Peter Pan


WEST PORTSMOUTH— Scioto County is full of talented young musicians throughout different school districts and arts-based non-profits, but, when it comes to school musicals, nearly the entire community looks forward to the Mrs. Linda Tieman directed West High School Musical each spring.

After a year of debate, then decision, and finally rehearsal, the school is nearing a point where they’re ready to open curtain on the 2024 production of Peter Pan.

The show has been produced and directed by Tieman three times in her storied career spanning 39 musicals at the school, not counting other community-involved productions.

According to Musical Theatre International (MTI), the show is “based on J.M. Barrie’s classic tale and featuring an unforgettable score by Morris “Moose” Charlap and Jule Styne with lyrics by Carolyn Leigh and Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Peter Pan is one of the most beloved and frequently performed family favorites of all time. This high-flying Tony Award-winning musical has been performed around the world and delighted audiences for 60 years.”

MTI explains that the musical follows the classic story of Peter Pan and the Darling Children we all know and love.

“Peter and his mischievous fairy sidekick, Tinkerbell, visit the nursery of the Darling children late one night and, with a sprinkle of pixie dust, begin a magical journey across the stars that none of them will ever forget,” MTI said. “In the adventure of a lifetime, the travelers come face to face with a ticking crocodile, a fierce Indian tribe, a band of bungling pirates and, of course, the villainous Captain Hook.”

The show features iconic songs, including “I’m Flying,” “I’ve Gotta Crow,” “I Won’t Grow Up” and “Never Never Land.”

Tieman explained that her students decided on Peter Pan only after first deciding on South Pacific. According to the educator, a group of her male students were heavily advocating for the South Pacific title, but, as the year progressed, other students began pushing for Peter Pan.

After a lot of convincing and thought, all students came to the conclusion that Peter Pan would be a worthwhile endeavor and the group of male students holding out for South Pacific decided to pause their desires to play the roles of military men for the opportunity to become pirates.

“There are only so many shows that are appropriate for high school students, so we inevitably have a few shows that we repeat over the years, however, it has been 11 years since we last performed this show,” Tieman explained. “There are certain shows, like Les Mis, for example, that we’ve done multiple times. I think there are some of these shows that are so worthwhile to examine, not just for the music and experience, but also for the historical backing of it. I try to cycle my shows and I feel like Peter Pan is fresh enough that it is safe to return to Nerverland. I have some students who may have seen the last production in the first grade, for example. Some of them have inspired to be in this show and that is how this came about.”

Tieman said that she mostly took a backseat in the decision, because she feels it to be important to allow her students to have a say in their performance titles.

“I think it is important. Sometimes, there is a little intervention needed, but, other times, things come together and the desire to put on a certain title is there and there is no need to discuss alternatives or to attempt to change their minds,” Tieman said. “If the kids don’t want to do a show, then they won’t do it well and the involvement won’t come backed with the excitement we really enjoy having in our productions.”

Tieman explained that a major part of the school’s success comes from the team backing her productions.

“We’ve had the same team for many years, and I really hesitate to address those names, because I will surely leave someone important out, but, most importantly, we have our set designers and builders Gary Tieman and Ed Ingles. We have community members who come in when they can to work. These shows would not be magical without our team. Heather Cate, our choreographer, is amazing. Dr. Jessica Powell is my right hand as rehearsal accompanist and orchestra director. Dr. Ryan Powell is our flight director and Sandi Dutiel is our dialect coach. There are so many facets in a show and there is no way you can do it singlehandedly; whether they are putting a stitch in a dress or playing tuba, you just can’t do this without them.”

Portsmouth West High School will open curtain on Peter Pan May 10 and 11 at 7:30 p.m. and May 12 at 2 p.m. at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts. Tickets are $11 and $15. Admission is available for purchase before the shows at www.vrcfa.com.

“Peter Pan rehearsals are going very well so far for the students. For me, it is kind of like child birthing; you kind of forget the negatives of some of the stuff. This is a technically difficult show to rehearse, because so much of it requires flight and you need to wait for tech week for that and the flight director. Also, there are so many segmented scenes and ensembles, and you don’t want kids sitting around and getting bored, so you have to plan rehearsals around groupings of characters and scenes to make the most of your time. It is a difficult show to rehearse, but it is fun and we are ready to hit the stage.”

Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2024 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

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