Peter Pan

March 5 - 10 | Belk Theater

Forever Young: Peter Pan, poster boy for eternal youth, flies into town March 5 – 10

Mar 4, 2024 / Blog
By Page Leggett

It’s the ultimate irony that Peter Pan, a boy who refuses to grow up, is often played by a grown woman.

Mary Martin, the actress most associated with the role, was 40 when she played J.M. Barrie’s hero. In the 1979 Broadway revival, Sandy Duncan played the lead. She was 33.

Finally – in a new touring musical that lands at the Belk Theater on March 5 – Peter is played by a male. And one closer in age to Peter than the women who’ve played him.

It’s hard to imagine a better fit for the role than 17-year-old Nolan Almeida. You might say it’s a role he’s been preparing for his whole life. As a fourth grader, Nolan played Michael Darling in a community theater production of Peter Pan.

He thought that would be “the coolest thing [he’d] ever do,” he said. “I printed flyers and handed them out to my whole elementary school. The next yearI attempted to write a sequel. It never got published, but [it’s] safe to say that I really loved that story. I was fascinated with the magic of it all and the idea of never growing up.”

Being cast as Peter is “an honor,” he said, despite the “pressure associated” with playing an icon. But mostly, he’s “stoked.”

He said, “It’s the first time someone my age is playing Peter. I think there’s a whole new way in which I can connect with kids because I’m really just a few years older than a lot of them.”

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(Nolan Almeida as Peter Pan, Hawa Kamara as Wendy. Photo: Matthew Murphy)

The physically demanding role calls for Nolan to dance and even fly. “Flying lessons” began last August for the tour that launched Feb. 20 in Baltimore. (Charlotte will be the show’s third stop.) Although he found it “terrifying” at first, Nolan says flying is now “the best part of [his] day.”

A timeless tale gets an update

The story begins when Peter and his impish sidekick, Tinker Bell, appear in the Darling children’s bedroom and take the kids on a magical adventure.

The new adaptation retains the charm of the original, but playwright Larissa FastHorse has modernized it to make it more culturally sensitive. Nolan appreciates the changes, calling them 'beneficial and important to the telling of this story."

FastHorse told U.S. News that Peter Pan may be many kids’ first experience in the theater. She hopes they fall in love not only with Peter Pan, but with the art form.

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(Nolan Almeida as Peter Pan, Kenny Ramos as Acoma, Raye Zaragoza as Tiger Lily and the cast of Peter Pan. Photo: Matthew Murphy)

On the fly

Nolan, whose most recent role was Crutchie in Newsies, hails from Orange County, California and likes songwriting, skateboarding and playing basketball and guitar. Leonardo DiCaprio is his favorite actor. (“No matter the role, he brings a deep level of vulnerability and honesty,” Nolan said.)

DiCaprio is known for immersing himself into the characters he plays. Nolan’s big on preparation, too. He called preparing to play Peter “one of the most fun things I’ve ever gotten to do.”

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(Nolan Almeida as Peter Pan (center) and the cast of Peter Pan. Photo: Matthew Murphy)

To rediscover the magic of childhood, he revisited parks where he played as a kid, listened to the music he loved as a kid and journalled about his childhood. “It’s been a beautiful experience to not only find that little version of myself,” he said, “but to give him an opportunity to come alive again every night.”

Nolan relishes working with director Lonny Price, who’s directed everything from Sunset Boulevard to an episode of One Life to Live. “Lonny is the best,” he said. “He loves what he does, and it shows. He’s made it a very collaborative space in which we all get to play. Lonny started as an actor, so he really understands us and has been a great mentor. He’s taught me the importance of being kind, always.”

Peter Pan

10% Off Groups 10+. Groups of 40+ receive one (1) complimentary ticket. Valid on select performances. 

Mar 5 - 10, 2024