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Cool Kids

The Kids of Peter Pan

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07/01/2009 - The Darling Family: John, played by Kevin Baldwin; Wendy, played by Ashlee Belveal; and Michael, played by Ethan Mesecher.

The Kids of Peter Pan: Kiki Rochelle (Tom); Kevin Baldwin (John Darling); Gabriel Miller (Slightly); Ashlee Belveal (Wendy Darling); Micah Miller (Twin 2); Abby Chambers (Boy Indian); Phillip Accardo (Curly); Hanna Morris (Nibs); Ethan Mesecher (Michael Darling); Clare Hendricks (Tiger Lily in Training); and Dylan Doherty (Twin 1).

I recently had the opportunity to sit in on the unveiling of the costume designs for the summer production of Peter Pan at Casper College. After the unveiling, I spoke with 10 members of the cast, all 13 and under, as well as 16-year-old Ashlee Belveal who plays Wendy Darling. Since the kids needed to be on stage rehearsing, I started with the Darling family; Ashlee, daughter of Nick and Michele, 13-year-old Kevin Baldwin (John), son of Melanie and Chad, and Ethan Mesecher (Michael), 8-year-old son of Amber and Nick.

Ashlee, a homeschooled junior, attributes her acting interest to her dad watching musicals with her when she was little and her mom's encouragement to do skits for History Day. Ashlee got her start in plays last year with Brigadoon. She said, "I didn't think I'd get Wendy, but I went ahead and auditioned."

Kevin, an eighth grader at Dean Morgan, was encouraged by his sister to start acting when he was in the fourth grade. The following year he auditioned for Chip in the Casper College production of Beauty and the Beast. "I wanted to come back and try again," he said. Kevin has participated in four other productions, including the lead in Oliver.

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This will be Ethan's first time in a Casper College production, but not on stage. He has been in school and church plays. "This is a pretty easy play," Ethan said, "I thought I'm young and I might get into it as a young child." He will be in the third grade at Manor Heights this fall, and is most looking forward to flying.

Abby Chambers, the 10-year-old daughter of Katie and John, considers her already short hair an asset in playing a boy Indian. Abby said it was really fun playing ZuZu in It's a Wonderful Life, so she wanted to try out for another Casper College production. "I like watching other people act," she said. Abby, who is a fifth grader at Verda James, has also performed in her school's production of Guys and Dolls.

Kiki Rochelle is the 13-year-old daughter of Ann and an eighth grader at Dean Morgan. Her earliest acting memory is being a dinosaur in preschool and getting her hair caught in the costume zipper. She plays Tom, one of the Lost Boys. Although she finds the dance sequences to be "sometimes difficult," Kiki thinks her gymnastics experience helps with the choreography. "When we get done, we will feel so accomplished," she said.

Slightly, another Lost Boy, is played by Gabriel (Gabe) Miller. The 13-year-old son of Judy Naginey and Reid Miller is in the eighth grade at Dean Morgan. Gabe is excited about the actual performance. "I've never done a Casper College show," he said. "I'm looking forward to the flash and glory. I think it's cool I'm not even in high school and I'm doing stuff at the college."

Gabe's 10-year-old brother Micah is also in the show. The Park Elementary fifth grader plays Twin 2. He thinks Peter Pan is going to be a lot of fun, even though he is worried about the dance. "It's so complex and long," he said. The singing, however, is his favorite part.

Phillip Accardo, a sixth grader at St. Anthony's, plays Curly. "I like acting because it lets me be somebody I'm not in a way that entertains people," said Phillip, the son of Melliane and Thomas. He also said the costumes and set design "are the coolest!"

Hannah Morris, 13, is the daughter of Becky and Buster. Now in eighth grade at Frontier Middle School, Hannah got her start in acting at the age of four. "My mom is one of the head directors at Casper Children's Theater, so I kinda grew up in it," she said. She is playing Nibs and is excited about the experience performing in Peter Pan will give her. "It will be a lot of help for the future in theater," she said.

Dylan Doherty, 12 and in the sixth grade at St. Anthony's Twin 1. Dylan said his parents, John and Mary, encourage him to try new things. He is most proud of his role as Ralphie in A Christmas Story with the Casper Children's Theater. The thing he likes best about being in plays is "how you start off and don't know how the play is going to be. Then you look back and see all the work you did and feel really proud."

The youngest member of the cast is eight-year-old Clare Hendricks who plays Tiger Lily in Training. Her parents, Jill and Steve, homeschool Clare who will be in fourth grade this fall. Her favorite part of the play is standing on the pirates. "It's way hard to stay on them when they laugh," she said. This is her first show with Casper College, and she is looking forward to "how experienced I'm going to be after this."

You can see these cool kids on stage at the Gertrude Krampert Theater July 17, 18, 22-25, 29 and August 1. Call the Casper College Box Office at 268-2500 for t

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