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BLT hits new heights with ‘Peter Pan’ — Cast members will fly high above the stage on new rigging system

Brookhaven Little Theater is reaching new heights with the upcoming production of “Peter Pan,” and it isn’t because of pixie dust.

When the show opens this weekend, actors will fly above the stage with the help of a flight simulation rigging system that will let them bring the story’s flying characters to life like never before. BLT technicians have spent the last few days receiving training from Shad Ramsey, flight and technical director with ZFX Flying out of Louisville, Kentucky.

“When theater companies do shows like ‘Peter Pan,’ they will contract our company and we provide the equipment to the facility and then actually teach the local theater volunteers how to operate the systems,” Ramsey said.

When the training is over, it’s over — Ramsey and his crew won’t be there to supervise during “Peter Pan’s” six-show run. The actual operation of the cable system is being done by BLT crew members, who hold the lives of their cast members in their hands, or at least on the ends of their steel cables.

“It’s a very complex procedure and is extremely dangerous. We’re dealing with people’s lives and their well being,” Ramsey said. “At any given time we can have someone from 6 to 12 feet in the air.”

Emily Waterloo, artistic director for “Peter Pan,” said the introduction of the flight system is a strong answer to BLT’s three main goals every season — get better, top previous performances and continue to be a source of entertainment that keeps Brookhaven proud.

“It’s beautiful when we find out that we can do something big and spectacular like the flying crew,” she said.

On the grand scale of new additions to the theater, the flight crew is the largest addition BLT has made to its sets, but it is not the only place that is getting attention.

Smaller scale changes and new procedures are being done across the board for new productions. Flight system notwithstanding, “Peter Pan” director Trey Waterloo said his favorite part of the theater has become the new auditions processes

“We no longer just have someone come in and read a few lines, sing a song and dance a few steps. We actually had our choreographer teach a portion of the dance used in the show to all potential cast members and then they performed that for our panel,” he said. “We have chemistry reads for any cast members that share a scene that needs to be believable, and finally our music director worked with music from our show with the potential cast members and they performed those in the audition. I hope this form of audition becomes the new normal.”

“Peter Pan” opens Friday and runs through Sunday. The show goes on a second time next week, beginning May 4 and ending May 6.

Friday and Saturday showtimes are at 7:30 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. each week.

Story by Paden Phillips