Peter Pan was brought to life this afternoon as Jenny Wiley Theatre in Prestonsburg kicked off its 50th season. Several people gathered to watch the story unfold, but the man who plays Peter Pan has a story of his own.
The story of Peter Pan- the flying boy who never grew up - contains themes of timeless appeal. That is at least partly why the folks at Jenny Wiley Theatre say it was a perfect candidate to ring-in the theater's 50th anniversary.
“How many of us, even as adults don't sometimes long for that more innocent and easy childhood,” says Holly Provance Doggett, executive director at Jenny Wiley Theatre.
Playing Peter Pan is Knott County native Skyler Slone, who got his first professional gig as an actor at Jenny Wiley Theatre more than a decade ago.
“I auditioned. My mom really didn't think much of it, but [said] we'll take him and see how it goes, and I ended up getting casted as the lead child in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” Slone said.
The experience catalyzed a journey he continues today as a theater major in college. He says one of the keys to channeling a character on stage is to draw on personal experiences. Peter Pan was no exception.
“I am a self-professed optimist. So I take my own cheery disposition and definitely lay it on that character,” Slone said.
But he says Peter Pan has a darker side to his character as well, a side Slone says his experience of losing his father back in 2008 helps him connect with.
“The story of Peter Pan is fun but it's not always a happy story in that growing up is a part of life that everyone really should experience and that's something that he never will, and so over my years I’ve been able to retroactively take that experience I have of growing up and really applying this to this character,” Slone said.
But good or bad, he says stage performing is a dream come true, and one he says he wants kids in eastern Kentucky to know is possible.
“All of your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them. You have to fight for what you want, you have to put yourself in the right positions to succeed, and in doing that you will,” Slone said.
A message he says fits nicely with the inspiration this first class theater has given the mountains these past 50 years.
Performances of Peter Pan will continue through August.