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The Good Stuff
Peter Pan Doesn't Do That!
by B. A. Llewellyn
Length: 408 words

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Voice: Barbara Llewellyn

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Peter Pan Doesn't Do That!

In the stage version of Peter Pan, the lead character is usually portrayed by a female actress.  The original Peter was Maude Adams, a dear friend of the writer, James Barrie.  Another actress, Pauline Chase, played a small part in the original production, then understudied the lead role, which had been taken over by Cissie Loftus, when the successful show went touring.

During the last week of the tour, Pauline took over the title role.  She was being given a golden opportunity.  James Barrie and the show’s producer, Charles
Frohman, came to watch her perform, telling her that if they thought she was good enough she would be Peter Pan in their next major production.  If she had the job, they would send a piece of paper marked with a cross to her dressing room at the end of the show.  The required paper with a cross, was given to her at the end of the first act – she was considered perfect for the part.

Pauline was to play Peter Pan for the next 8 years, doing approximately 1400 performances of the boy who would never grow up.  She recognised her responsibility to all children and understood the need to stay in character when she was in costume.  Peter Pan is of course a male character and Pauline knew that part of her responsibility was to continue appearing as a male when her young fans visited her after the show.

She recounted a charming memory of one of her many meetings with Peter Pan’s adoring young friends.  A lad who was only about five or six years old visited Pauline’s dressing room.  He was upset by the tales told him by older and more sceptical children – they said that Peter Pan was actually a girl!

The little boy was determined to prove them wrong.  He knew that Peter Pan was a boy and he could prove it!  He demanded that Pauline’s Peter whistle right now, ‘cause surely only boys could whistle … Pauline whistled!

Next the truth-seeker brought out the one question he knew would prove for certain that the actress was really a male.  He looked her straight in the eye and said, “What do you think of kissing?”

Without hesitation, Pauline pulled an ugly face and said, “Rotten”.

The little boy was immensely relieved.  He had just proved, without a shadow of a doubt, that Peter Pan was most definitely a little boy, just like himself.

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