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Centennial High School drama touches on family dynamics, control of one's destiny

If You Go

What: CHS Theatre Arts Department presents "Lost Girl" When: 7 p.m. Nov. 7, 9, 14 and 16

Where: Centennial High School Auditorium, 3505 S.E. 182nd Ave., Gresham

Tickets: $10, adults; $8, students 18 and younger and seniors; $5 students and staff


COURTESY PHOTO: KELLIE MCCARTY - Centennial High School junior Beatrice Byrd, center, who stars as Wendy, rehearses with cast members for Lost Girl. "Lost Girl," Centennial High School Theatre Arts Department's fall production, concerns what happened with Peter Pan's companion, Wendy, six years after she returned from Neverland.

Despite its associations with the whimsical, forever young tale of Peter Pan, director Kellie McCarty sees the story of "Lost Girl" as something more universally relatable.

"Wendy grapples with the decision to let somebody else take control of their future," she says. "Peter asks her to wait on him, so she waits and he never returns. I think most people have had a relationship where they realize they have to put their own needs first.

"Most of us have had to face that in our lives."

And while those who remember Peter Pan as portrayed through years of movies and theatrical performances will likely like "Lost Girl," McCarty emphasizes that it follows its own distinct path.

"It's not about Peter Pan. He's a very minor character," she says. "Wendy is the (main) character. This is her story."

The CHS Theatre Arts presents "Lost Girl" at 7 p.m. Nov. 7, 9, 14, and 16 in the Centennial Auditorium, 3505 S.E. 182nd Ave., Gresham.

The drama, which McCarty says will mark its Oregon debut at Centennial, ponders the questions: What if six years after returning from Neverland, Wendy is still waiting for Peter Pan to return? What if she must find a way to reclaim her kiss (from him) in order to move on with her life? What if she can't? 

"So often people base their self-worth on the opinions or needs of others and forget about the person that they are without them," McCarty noted. "How many people have let a relationship dictate their emotional happiness or ability to go after the things they want?"COURTESY PHOTO: KELLIE MCCARTY - Beatrice Byrd as Wendy talks to the detective, played by Morgan Bass, about finding Peter Pan in a recent rehearsal for Lost Girl.

Wendy grapples with these conundrums throughout the story and inevitably has to decide whether to live in the past or take control of her future.

McCarty, a 22-year veteran as Centennial's Theater Arts director, came across the 2018 play this past spring when looking for fall production options.

"Actually it's a pretty new play," she says. "It's not been done very often in this country … I read the synopsis and was really intrigued. Within a week, I had applied for the rights and said 'That's the show we're doing.'"

CHS junior Beatrice Byrd as Wendy leads the cast of 13 students, who were chosen from an auditioning field of about 25.

"I feel they are doing a wonderful job of portraying these characters," McCarty says. "Some are playing multiple characters. I think having to differentiate between them is good for them."

While "Lost Girl" has nothing McCarty considers inappropriate for family audiences, the production still "deals with mature adult issues," she says, including relationships with — and loss of — parents.COURTESY PHOTO: KELLIE MCCARTY - Wendys alter-egos, from left, Maggie Redden, Jessica Cabrera and Kendall Hemmer discuss how it felt to be in Neverland.

"The father leaves his family and takes (Wendy's) brothers (because) he can't handle the press and fame that comes with Wendy leaving Neverland. Everyone in her life continues leaving her," she observes. "Still, it's a bunch of teenagers trying to find out about themselves while dealing with some sensitive subjects, and we try to tell the story to the best of our ability."

McCarty hopes "Lost Girl" provides a little something beyond a couple hours of fun entertainment.

"One of the more rewarding parts is we get to tell this story and get to help someone else in a situation they need to get out of," she says.

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