The Cornley Drama Society is back to present another play‚ J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan, and if the title of the new comedy from Mischief Theatre Company is any indication, it does not go well. Peter Pan Goes Wrong, now in previews at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, is the latest transfer from the U.K. company known for messing everything up on stage. Opening night is set for April 19.
The follow-up to The Play That Goes Wrong is written by Mischief company members Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields. The play-within-a-play (this time Peter Pan) is sure to have audiences in stitches while they watch the company-within-the-company try their hardest to deliver lines while everything around them literally falls apart. "It's the first night every night," says Sayer. "It's doomed to go wrong in as many ways you can think of."
The Play That Goes Wrong premiered in London in 2012 and then on Broadway in 2017. Peter Pan Goes Wrong made its world premiere at London's Pleasance Theatre in 2013 and its West End debut in 2015 following a U.K. tour. The play was adapted as a TV special for BBC One in 2016. The show went on a U.K. tour in 2019 and 2020, including a stop at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
The creators say they have always wanted to do an incredibly ambitious show going wrong. As their popularity has increased, so has their budget. "Now we've got to the point where we can put the show on as we dreamed it would be. It's a really big, ambitious show with a big revolving stage. There's flying, there's music, there's dancing—everything that you can imagine that show—all going wrong," says Shields, who also plays Chris Bean, the director of the Cornley Drama Society.
"It's really a show about glorious failure," says actor Harry Kershaw, then jokingly, "I hope the reviews don't say that. But yeah, glorious failure is really what it's about. And I think people relate to that.
Chris Leask—who plays the stage manager Trevor, always at odds with the actors (and the set)— has another reason that keeps audiences coming back for more Mischief: "Everyone loves an underdog. And it feels like every single one of the characters in the show is some sort of underdog within their world. External things happen, certain characters screw everything up—but they're trying so hard to do it right. It's exciting to see this company who are trying their hardest."
Most of the company, though, promised lots of fun and lots of laughs. However, almost every time they tried to say that it was just silliness, something a little deeper would sneak in: the basic human need for laughter and joy.
Actor Matthew Cavendish offers, "Escape into our world of silly British people getting hit with things. Enjoy that escape from the difficulties in your own lives and just leave feeling a little lighter."
Peter Pan Goes Wrong features original U.K. cast members Henry Lewis as Robert, Jonathan Sayer as Dennis (beginning April 11), Henry Shields as Chris, Chris Leask as Trevor, Ellie Morris as Lucy, Charlie Russell as Sandra, Greg Tannahill as Jonathan, and Nancy Zamit as Annie. They are joined by Matthew Cavendish as Max, Bianca Horn as Jill, and Harry Kershaw as Francis. The company will also include Ryan Vincent Anderson, Stephen James Anthony, Fred Gray, and Brenann Stacker. Bartley Booz will play Dennis for preview performances March 17–April 9.
The Broadway run reunites the work's original creative team, led by director Adam Meggido and including scenic designer Simon Scullion, costume designer Roberto Surace, lighting designer Matt Haskins, sound designer Ella Wahlström, and co-composers Richard Baker and Rob Falconer. The Broadway bow is being produced by Kevin McCollum, Kenny Wax, Stage Presence, and Catherine Schreiber.