Peter Pan flies into London

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Until 30 August 2009, Kensington Gardens in London, UK, is playing host to a unique and remarkable theatre event–a spectacular new open air stage production of Scottish playwright J M Barrie's classic story Peter Pan.

Conceived and staged by an award–winning creative team, the production takes place in a specially commissioned, state–of–the–art Theatre Pavilion which includes a breathtaking 360–degree projected scenic design. "It was here, on this very spot in Kensington Gardens, that those stories were first invented, " said show director Ben Harrison, speaking to UK newspaper The Times in May 2009. Barrie, walking his St Bernard dog in the gardens in 1897, happened across three boys and their nanny, Mary. The youngest, a baby in his pram, was called Peter. Barrie struck up a lifelong friendship with the Llewelyn Davies family, eventually adopting all five boys after their parents died. He spun them endless tales of daring adventures, which they devoured and sent back again. So key were they to the genesis of Peter Pan that Barrie later credited them with co–authoring the character. Peter Pan first appeared in 1902 as a seven–day–old baby, and part bird, in a novel for adults called The Little White Bird. But it was with the opening of the stage play in 1904 at the Duke of York's theatre, that Peter Pan became a sensation. It closed in April 1905 to make way for another Barrie play, but was revived every Christmas until the Second World War forced its closure in 1939. As Harrison explains: "It wasn't a pantomime at all, it was the opening of a new work by the most celebrated playwright of his time. " George Bernard Shaw agreed, concluding that it was ostensibly an "entertainment for children but really a play for grown–up people". William Dudley's groundbreaking set design for the 2009 production provides a modern spin for the classic tale through the use of sophisticated CGI technology that is projected into the theatre's domed–tent interior. This kind of animated set design has been seen in shows such as Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Woman in White and Hitchcock Blonde at the Royal Court. However, at 160m for this production, the film is three times the size of an IMAX cinema and is therefore pushing the envelope in terms of theatre–based use. Members of the Kensington Gardens audience are able to fly with Peter to Neverland, stand on the deck of Hook's ship, and soar high over Kensington Gardens in the heart of Edwardian London. A specially commissioned temporary structure in the heart of Kensington Gardens, the Kensington Gardens Theatre offers theatregoers a breathtaking live experience. With over 1, 000 seats in the round, the state–of–the–art auditorium offers unimpeded views for everyone. No one in the audience is more than a few rows from the stage, making this an intimate theatrical experience. Following the London show, Peter Pan will head to Central Park in New York, Chicago, Dubai and then Australia. The character Peter Pan has appeared in numerous adaptations, sequels, and prequels, including the widely known 1953 animated feature film Walt Disney's Peter Pan, various stage musicals (including one by Jerome Robbins, starring Cyril Ritchard and Mary Martin, filmed for television), live–action feature films Hook (1991) and Peter Pan (2003), and the authorised sequel novel Peter Pan in Scarlet (2006). He has also appeared in various works not authorised by the holders of the character's copyright, which has lapsed in most parts of the world.

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