MBU Theatre’s ‘Peter Pan’ takes flight, spreads joy to families affected by illness

J.M. Barrie’s 1904 play,”Peter Pan,” took flight as a Broadway musical more than 60 years ago and is still a treasure to the stage today. Missouri Baptist University Theatre brought the high-flying production to the stage of the Pillsbury Chapel & Dale Williams Fine Arts Center from March 23-25.

Offering something a little different, MBU Theatre director Kasey Cox said she hoped to spread the magic of Neverland by offering a free performance exclusively to children with illnesses along with their family, friends, hospital staff and caretakers that serve them. The special performance was held Saturday, March 25.

“Our goal is to completely pack out our almost 1,000-seat auditorium with people who need to escape for just a couple of hours,” Cox said. “Wouldn’t that be a fantastic way to be Jesus to our community?”

The desire to provide this free show was inspired by playwright J.M. Barrie, who gave all the rights to “Peter Pan” to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital in 1929. The rights were confirmed upon Barrie’s death in 1937 and the hospital received royalties every time a production of the play was put on, as well as from the sale of related books and other products.

The cast and crew, along with MBU faculty and staff, invited St. Louis-area hospitals and organizations.

In addition to a free show for children, MBU Theatre hosted a benefit featuring a character meet-and-greet, games and a real-life pirate ship. The ticket included entry to the event and the 7:30 p.m. performance. Proceeds benefitted Matt’s Hats, a non-profit created by MBU junior Matt Williams with a mission to provide hats to children in the hospital.