'Peter Pan' production uses professional 'flying' rig to get actors' feet off the ground
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Suspended by a Flying by Foy system of cables, tracks and pulleys, Peter Pan, played by Corey Labrie, flies around the stage as Michael Darling, played by Kaj Porter, Wendy Darling, played by Maggie McDougal, and John Darling, played by Peter Hanes, watch during a test of the "flying" system just a few moments before the play began. -- Photo by Chris Tucker/Peninsula Daily News

By Chris Tucker
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES -- Audiences attending the Port Angeles Light Opera Association's production of "Peter Pan" are being treated to thrilling "flight" scenes courtesy of cables, harnesses and the strong, off-stage pulling power of several pirates.

"The first scene is very, very tiring to the guys," said the play's director, Rick Porter, of the rope-pulling crew.

He was calmly overseeing a test flight of the system just minutes before the opening show began last week (the play's two-weekend run continues Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.).

A minimum of five people are required offstage to handle the ropes and make all the flying scenes go smoothly, but Porter has seven onhand.

Some of the rope-pullers also act as pirates in the show.

The characters of Wendy, John and Michael are connected via harness and wire to one fixed pulley each. Those characters can be moved up and down, but they can also swing around like a pendulum.

Peter Pan, however, is special.

He gets a pulley attached to a track so he can go up and down and slide left and right, allowing for a greater range of flight maneuvers.

Foy's flying system

The play makes use of the Flying by Foy theatrical flying system that uses pulleys, tracks, cables and harnesses to allow actors to slip the surly bonds of Earth.

The company's name comes from the London-born creator of the system, Peter Foy, who started the company in 1957. His system has been used in "The Lion King," "Aida," "The Flying Nun" and "Monty Python's Spamalot," among other productions.

Porter said a legal agreement he signed with the Foy company prohibits photographs of the Foy pulley and track system that spans the width of the stage.

Flying by Foy "flight director" Jason Wilson came earlier to the set to assemble the system and teach the crew how to use it safely.

Wilson showed the PALOA staff how to use marks on the stage floor to choreograph the scenes so that, for example, the actors would fly to the roof of the doghouse rather than into the middle of the clock.

Despite the precautions, there have been a few mishaps involving lead actress Corey Labrie, who plays Peter Pan.

"She's been flown into walls more times than I can think of," Porter said, smiling.

He said Labrie has been "a trooper" in adapting to the flying system.


Photojournalist Chris Tucker can be reached at 360-417-3524 or at chris.tucker@peninsuladailynews.com.

For "Peter Pan" ticket information, phone 360-457-5630 or visit http://paloa.org.

Last modified: July 27. 2009 11:53PM
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