Teens hope to get canned

Published 10:09 pm Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cast members for “The Adventures of Peter Pan” rehearse ahead of their sole performance in Smithfield on Saturday. The teens, mostly from Nansemond River High School, are raising money for needy families.

One recent afternoon at a home in suburban North Suffolk, a group of teens stood in the air-conditioning reciting lines for a play they’re putting on to benefit hungry families.

In their third week of rehearsals for “The Adventures of Peter Pan,” they were getting a grip on their characters, even those of them who are new to the stage.

They’re hoping the show gets thoroughly canned, because the price of admission is at least one canned food donation.

Email newsletter signup

“I think charity is an awesome experience and a good thing to give back to the community,” said Akria McQuillie, a Nansemond River High School rising senior playing two characters, Curly and the Mermaid Queen.

“I did a previous show, so I’m not that nervous.”

The cast and crew of 14 are mostly from Nansemond River High, but also include a couple of Alabama teens.

The group calls itself “The Effect,” after a previous production, “The Christmas Effect,” according to Harold Hodge, who is the self-described director and plays the title character in “The Adventures of Peter Pan.”

“It’s a modern-day spin,” Hodge said of the play. “First, the main character … wants to be treated as an adult, not as a child. She has arguments with her parents about wanting to be treated with more independence.”

The teens determined upon the musical play to “fill a need in the community,” according to Hodge.

There will be one performance, at the Smithfield Little Theater, 210 North Church St., at 6 p.m. Saturday.

The canned food will be donated to the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia, which delivers canned and other nonperishable food to more than 400,000 individuals annually, its website says.

As the community-minded teens honed their performances, it was clear they are having fun trying to realize their quest.

“Trying not to laugh at them is the biggest challenge,” rising senior Deja Patterson, playing Tootles and a mermaid, said of her cast mates.

“It’s great,” remarked Louisa Gamore, amid reciting dialogue for Mrs. Darling and Nibs. She said the play is teaching her about community service.

“It’s a great experience, especially if you want to do more in the theater,” she added.