James Presley: Breathing New Life into Peter Pan for the Stage

Jim's journey with Peter Pan began in 2015 when, while touring, he immersed himself in Barrie's works, captivated by the idea that he and his friend Margaret Kerry may be able to collaborate on this project together.

Understanding the immense potential of Barrie's stories to inspire and entertain all audiences, Jim reached out to the Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity, which holds the rights to Peter Pan. With their blessing, he set out to create a version of Peter Pan tailored specifically for schools and community theaters. This condensed adaptation preserved the essence of the traditional story while making it more accessible and engaging for a broader audience.  And this project was and is intended at a charity production with ticket sales to be donated to GOSH Charity.

Jim's enthusiasm for the project was contagious. He not only crafted the script but also collaborated with friends in the entertainment industry, writing and performing original songs for the musical. This collaborative effort culminated in the inaugural 2019 performance of "Peter Pan’s Magical World of Neverland," a production that enchanted audiences and laid the foundation for Jim's final adaptation.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a standstill, but for Jim, it was a period of intense creativity and development. He delved into Barrie's 1901 novel, The Little White Bird, which introduced the character of Peter Pan and was later published separately as Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. From this source material, Jim crafted a heartwarming and magical prequel to the traditional Peter Pan story, seamlessly integrating it into his existing adaptation.

Jim's adaptation is a two-act musical that is meticulously scripted and musically scored. Act 1, titled "Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens," serves as a prequel, providing rich backstory and context to the character of Peter Pan, while Act 2 recounts the classic tale of the boy who would not grow up. In his adaptation, Jim removed the darker elements of the original story, ensuring a family-friendly experience that retains the charm and whimsy of Barrie's creation.

Jim Presley's dedication to adapting Peter Pan for the stage has resulted in a production that honors the spirit of the original while offering new layers of depth and enchantment. His work continues to captivate audiences, proving that the magic of Neverland is truly timeless.

The Director: Tom shaker

Tom Shaker was born on August 13, 1952, in Niles, Ohio, to Mary Katherine Christopher Shaker and Mitchell Francis Shaker, both descendants of immigrants. He is the fifth of eight children. His passion for the arts began early, landing the lead role in his kindergarten play, "Frosty the Snowman."

Throughout his education, Tom excelled academically and was actively involved in arts, sports, and student government. He attended Kent State University, where he became involved in activities related to the tragic campus shootings of May 4, 1970, and produced numerous theatrical works. Tom graduated with honors and earned his AEA Actors' Equity Association card in 1974.

After briefly attending Akron University Law School, Tom committed to his passion for the stage. He earned a Master's Degree from the University of Michigan while battling and overcoming Hodgkin's disease. In Detroit, Tom distinguished himself as an actor, director, producer, and "edu-tainer," earning union memberships in SAG and AFTRA. He performed in various commercials, films, and theatrical productions, developed an improvisational edu-tainment concept for schools, and portrayed Ronald McDonald for McDonald's Corporation.

Tom moved to New York City in 1991, where he continued his work in film, television, and theater. His notable projects included roles in "Law and Order," "Ransom," "Die Hard III," and his original musical "Birdsville."

In 2000, Tom relocated to Rome, Italy, where he consults at Sapienza Roma I University and Link Campus University. He has appeared in films and series like "The Passion of the Christ" and HBO's "Rome." Tom is also working on his book "At Home in Rome," a documentary film, and music projects.

Currently, Tom and his partners are developing a production facility in Boca Raton, Florida. His ongoing projects include "Rome 360," "Forget About It," and a reality show, "Garage Gallery."

We are honored to have Tom's expertise for our production of Peter Pan’s Magical World of Neverland.

Elaine Zentz: The Versatile Assistant Director

When it comes to theater productions, the role of an assistant director is pivotal. For our upcoming production of Peter Pan, James Presley has chosen Elaine Zentz as the assistant director, a decision that speaks volumes about her remarkable skill set and experience in the arts.

Elaine Zentz brings a rich tapestry of experience to our production, combining her talents in singing, theater, and people management. Her journey in the arts is a testament to her versatility and dedication.

A Journey Through Radio and Theater

Elaine’s career began in the 1960s, with a notable milestone in 1966 when she recorded "Greetings Uncle Sam" for Steel Town Records. This early venture into the recording industry showcased her vocal talents and set the stage for her future endeavors.

By 1970, Elaine was lending her voice to radio commercials for local companies, further demonstrating her ability to connect with audiences through various media.

Her passion for nurturing young talent became evident between 1978 and 1980, when she co-directed and choreographed the children's production "Showers of Talent." Her dual role in this production highlighted her leadership abilities and her knack for bringing out the best in young performers.

Elaine’s voice continued to resonate with listeners as she transitioned into radio talk shows. In 1991, she hosted a program where she read newspapers to visually impaired individuals, providing a valuable service to the community. The following year, she co-hosted a radio talk show, engaging with a broader audience and further honing her communication skills.

An Exceptional Choice for Assistant Director

James Presley’s decision to bring Elaine on board as the assistant director is no surprise given her extensive background. Her diverse experiences in radio and theater, combined with her innate ability to connect with people, make her an invaluable asset to our production.

Elaine’s journey is a testament to her dedication to the arts and her ability to adapt and thrive in various roles. Her involvement in our production of Peter Pan ensures that we have a leader who understands the intricacies of performance, direction, and audience engagement.

As we look forward to the upcoming shows on November 30 and December 1, 2024, we are confident that Elaine Zentz’s contributions will help make this production a memorable and magical experience for everyone involved. Her unique blend of skills and experiences promises to bring a fresh and dynamic perspective to our beloved tale of Peter Pan.

Gianna Imbriani: A Valuable Contributor to Our Peter Pan Production

Gianna Imbriani, a seasoned theater teacher within our school district, has been a beacon in the world of performing arts for many years. Her extensive experience and passion for theater have left an indelible mark on countless students and productions alike.

This summer, we are incredibly fortunate to have Gianna lend her expertise to our upcoming production of Peter Pan. Beyond her teaching commitments, she has offered her personal time for workshop assistance with the choreography of our battle and fight scenes. Her skill in crafting dynamic and engaging stage combat will bring an extra layer of excitement and authenticity to the interactions between Peter Pan, Captain Hook, The Lost Boys, and The Darling Family. Her ability to blend safety with spectacular action ensures that our cast will deliver thrilling performances while maintaining the highest standards of stage safety.

Loni Groes: The Perfect Stage Manager

Loni Groes is the exceptional stage manager behind our upcoming production of Peter Pan. Her journey with James Presley began during the Great Recession when Jim worked at a box store retailer, awaiting the revival of his music career. During this time, Jim and Loni discovered their shared passion for all things Disney, forming a connection that would later prove invaluable.

Loni’s meticulous nature and her commitment to perfection in the business world make her the ideal stage manager for our show. Her attention to detail ensures that every aspect of the production runs smoothly, from coordinating rehearsals to managing the technical crew. Loni’s ability to anticipate and address potential issues proactively has earned her the respect of the entire cast and crew.

Starring Margaret Kerry NARRATOR OF ACT 2 AND A SURPRISE ROLE!

Margaret Kerry is a celebrated actress and voice artist known for her work in early television and film. She gained fame through her appearances in iconic TV shows such as "The Lone Ranger" and "The Andy Griffith Show." In addition to her television career, she starred in movies alongside the comedic trio, The Three Stooges, and was a key creator and voice character in the innovative animated series "Clutch Cargo."

Margaret and James adapted the final scene for Act 2 of The Magical world of Peter Pan.  This particular scene was only performed once during the lifetime of  James M Barrie.

Margaret Kerry's film career includes a notable performance in the 1948 movie "If You Knew Susie." However, her most enduring legacy comes from her role as the reference model for Tinker Bell in Disney's 1953 animated classic "Peter Pan." Her contributions to animation and early television have left a lasting impact on the entertainment industry.

Terry LaMont: Editor and Narrator Act 1

We are thrilled to announce that Terry LaMont will be taking on the role of Sir James Matthew Barrie, the beloved narrator for Act 1 of our upcoming production, The Magical World of Peter Pan. Terry's deep connection to our show, both as a performer and a songwriter, makes him the perfect choice to bring the character of J.M. Barrie to life.

Terry was the primary editor from the very beginning of the development of Act 1:  Peter Pan In Kensington Gardens.

Act 1, titled Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, will feature Terry not only as our distinguished narrator but also as the creative mind behind some of the production's most memorable music. Terry penned the enchanting theme song for Act 1, The Birds of Kensington Gardens, which beautifully captures the whimsical spirit of the story. He also wrote and recorded the Celtic piece, Mom’s Apron, adding Scottish depth to our narrative.

One of the standout moments in Act 1 is sure to be the song How Many Times (Just Like Me), sung by a night guard moonlighting as a schoolmaster to six misbehaving boys who linger in Kensington Gardens after closing time. This captivating song, written by Terry, plays a pivotal role in the storyline, leading to a magical transformation for both the boys and the night guard, setting the stage for the adventures of Act 2.

Terry's dedication to our production goes beyond his on-stage performance. He has spent countless hours assisting in editing the script and crafting the musical landscape of our show. His commitment to our project began with our first production in 2019, and his continued involvement has been instrumental in making this current production possible.

We are excited to have Terry LaMont as one of the key contributors to The Magical World of Peter Pan. His talent and passion are sure to make this a truly unforgettable experience for all.