Peter Pansy a Musical Adventure in Faggotry

by Robert Nesti

EDGE National Arts & Entertainment Editor

Friday May 13, 2011

Michael Wood as Peter Pansy in ""Peter Pansy a Musical Adventure in Faggotry"
Michael Wood as Peter Pansy in ""Peter Pansy a Musical Adventure in Faggotry"  

When Mary Martin sang of Never, Neverland, it is doubtful she could have imagined the place as skewed through the imagination of Ryan Landry. In "Peter Pansy a Musical Adventure in Faggotry", his take on the James Barrie classic children's story, Neverland is called Provincetonia and it is populated with Lost Boys who go to T-Dance and complain how they never get laid, pirates more interested in Italian cuisine than skullduggery, mermaids who tempt like sirens, little boys who snort pixie dust in order to fly, AC/DC Native Americans, a giant ocean creature that looks curiously like a vagina, and a Tinker Bell with more issues than Lindsay Lohen. There's little doubt Barrie is spinning in his grave.

Or perhaps chuckling since "Peter Pansy..." is chock-full of the usual Gold Dust Orphan elements - sexual double-entendres; lewd sight gags; puppets, from hand-sized to the gargantuan; cartoonish costumes, low-tech special effects and wonderfully over-the-top performances.

Michael Wood (flying) and Ryan Landry in a promotional shot for "Peter Pansy a Musical Adventure in Faggotry"
Michael Wood (flying) and Ryan Landry in a promotional shot for "Peter Pansy a Musical Adventure in Faggotry"  

Like Martin's "Peter Pan," this one is a musical with songs and dances that come fast and furious. The songs come in many styles, indeed they are largely familiar melodies from all musical genres to which Landry adds lyrics - often very funny lyrics that punctuate the story. Here Peter Pansy is more gay than the audience at a Gaga concert and his reason for taking Wendy to Provincetonia is to make her his fag hag, much to the chagrin of a human-sized Tinker Bell. Wendy, of course, does what fag hags do, which is to fall in love with their gay friend. Big mistake, as it turns out.

That is pretty much the extent of the show's social commentary - Landry doesn't take pot shots at such Ptown targets as Fourth of July tittie queens or the town's rapacious real estate market as he has in the past. This is lampoon, plain and simple, that is served up (once it is in Provincetonia) at the speed of a Road Runner cartoon. It brings to mind such earlier Gold Dust Orphans efforts as "Whizzin'" and last season's "Phantom of the Oprah" -- an ingenious goof that's guaranteed to get big laughs both here in Boston (where it runs at Machine through May 29) and in Provincetown, where it will run on Tuesdays at the Crown and Anchor throughout the summer).

Many of those laughs come every time Olive Another is on the stage. As a blowsy Tinker Belle in a blonde wig and demented fairy costume, Another embodies Peter's rejected companion with comic exasperation. Dumped by Peter for Wendy, Another's Tink strikes back with a manic intensity that's like watching Paul Lynde on acid. This being pretty much a loose adaptation of the 1954 musical, there is a replay of the scene where Tinker Bell is dying and the audience is asked to save her, here though given an oddly political twist that makes a clever reference to President Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.

The rest of the cast features many of the usual suspects from earlier Orphan shows, plus some new ones. Of the former, Liza Lott conveys Wendy's naiveté of the ways of the gay world with wide-eyed conviction and sings with the power of a 1980s rock chick.

It should be said that children be best kept at home to spare them the sight of Landry's Captain Hook rising from his bath like some perverted Edward Gorey drawing come to life. Is there anything scarier than this Hook's sagging tits and low-hanging balls? Always the provocateur, Landry relishes every moment of this first act finale; he also brings his clownish skills to the rest of his take on Hook, playing him as the queeniest closet case this side of Liberace.

The cast of "Peter Pansy a Musical Adventure in Faggotry"
The cast of "Peter Pansy a Musical Adventure in Faggotry"  

Michael Wood's previous appearance with the Gold Dust Orphans was as a dancing Baby Jesus in "All About Christmas Eve" a few years ago in one of the funniest five minutes seen in any Orphan show. He doesn't repeat such moment here, yet he's a sublimely funny Peter Pansy, embodying his character's self-absorbed gay sensibility with just the right touch of sarcasm. He also sings well, plays the ukulele and is so light in the loafers that he can, indeed, fly. Fly he does in one of the show's low-tech special effects, which also includes a sea creature puppet that literally swallows Wendy hole and a Mermaid whose siren song is echoed by her numerous puppet-size sisters. In a clever bit of double casting, Delta Miles plays the ditzy Mrs. Darling in the Boston scenes, then this booming voiced mermaid who attempts to capture Wendy in song, giving the moment a darker, psychological dimension. If "Peter Pansy..." has any emotional weight, it is in the dynamic between the out-of-touch Mrs. Darling and her children, especially Wendy, who final rock anthem is declaration of independence from her controlling mother.

Godiva is drolly funny as Snee, Hook's second-in-command, who delivers wisecracks with a snappy cynicism. Scott Martino (Michael) and Harry Hobbs (John) play Wendy's brothers (one straight, one gay) with boyish confusion. Samantha Brior-Jones' Tiger Lily plays with the stereotype from the original musical, even at one point making a sly reference to Cher (whom she resembles) with her song "Half-Gay" sung to the tune of "Half-Breed." She also supplied the show's snappy choreography, which puts Fosse-styled dances onto the postage-stamp sized Machine stage with surprising ease.

As usual, Landry and director James P. Byrne make the most the tight performance space, extending the briskly paced action onto side stages. The sets (credited to Kenneth Bayliss, Matthew "Windsor" Lazure and Byrne) fit nicely with the show's cartoonish spirit. Their numerous puppets are also wonderful. Lastly Scott Martino's costumes suggest Martin's "Peter Pan," but skewed through a camp sensibility - a Tinker Bell who looks like a drag train wreck, a mermaid who could be the envy of every queen at a Halloween party, and Lost Boys who wear t-shirts with names like Bottom, Butt Plug, Nipples, Superfly, Shaft and Poppers. Yes, I don't think we're in Mary Martin's "Peter Pan" anymore.

"Peter Pansy a Musical Adventure in Faggotry" runs through May 29, 2011 at Machine, 1256 Bolyston Street, Boston, MA. For more information about the production visit the Gold Dust Orphans Facebook page

Robert Nesti can be reached at [email protected].