Editor’s Note: This article was originally written by Arlana Shikongo, Annie Uhle and Ramya Vijayagopal for Ithaca Week, an Ithaca College student publication. It is republished with permission.

ITHACA, NY – Members of the community gathered to attend a dramatic reading of “Peter and the Starcatcher at noon Feb. 6 at the Tompkins County Public Library.

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The event featured a dramatic reading of scenes from “Peter and the Starcatcher” by actors from the Kitchen Theatre Company. Afterward, members of the company taught the children a song from the play and helped the children make “star jars,” a jar filled with glitter, cotton balls, water and food coloring. Regina DeMauro, Teen Services Librarian, spoke about the reason behind holding the event.

DeMauro said she had previously worked with the Kitchen Theatre Company when her teen book club read and attended the play “I and You”. DeMauro said that the collaboration was a success, so a member of the Kitchen Theatre Company reached out to her again to plan the “Peter and the Starcatcher” event.

“This is the first time we’ve done a lot of collaboration with a local theater for youth,” DeMauro said. “We try to work with a lot of organizations.”

The event lasted one hour. The atmosphere was relaxed. The children listened to the dramatic reading of “Peter and the Starcatcher” and sang and made “star jars” with the cast.

https://m.storyl.in/e/NX3fs1xwND.mp4

The actors who performed were part of Kitchen Theatre Company, a theater troupe in Ithaca. It started in 1991 and puts on around seven productions per season. Although this dramatic reading was free, tickets for the full performance of the play will cost between $15 and $40. The play will be showing in Ithaca from Jan. 31 to Feb. 21.

“Peter and the Starcatcher” is a novel written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson and was adapted into a play by Rick Elice with music by Wayne Barker. The play is a prequel explaining the backstory of Peter Pan and is intended for people nine and up but is also suitable for younger audiences.

Michelle Lee attended the program with her six-year-old child, Edie Park. Lee said her daughter was the reason she decided to attend.

“She is a big fan of Peter Pan and she watched the Disney movie over a hundred times, [and] read the book,” Lee said. “She always sleeps with her Peter Pan stuffed animal.”

The Tompkins County Public Library hosts events of this nature on a regular basis. The library offers services and resources for members of the community. The services offered include computer training on the library’s computers, Toddler and Baby Playtime, Family Movie Matinees and various book clubs. The community resources at the library as well as many of the events are free and open to the public.

Lee said she and her daughter come to the library almost every week.

“This kind of event, I think, is really good for kids to be connected to the library, so the library is not only about books,” Lee said. “On Tuesdays they have a Sit and Read so she gets to read to dogs … There are many fun events so the library is … like a playground for her. She can go and check out books, but … there are always fun events going on.”

The actors, children and parents participated in a sing-along, teaching the children hand gestures and lyrics they are encouraged to use when watching the play.

DeMauro talked about the library’s upcoming programs.

“On Monday the 15th, we have the Circus Culture group coming in to do acrobatics and juggling and dance with kids,” DeMauro said. “We always do some kind of dance and music story time with children throughout the year … Our art programs for older kids vary vastly. We might do really specific sewing and crafting programs or I might bring in a comic book artist or someone like that to teach the kids.”

DeMauro spoke about the importance of arts in education.

“Arts and music is usually where things get cut as soon as schools start cutting funding,” DeMauro said. “You can learn all sorts of skills through music and through arts and I think it’s really important to have that available to kids so we can round out what maybe they might be missing at school.”

Craig MacDonald, who plays Lord Aster in “Peter and the Starcatcher,” also said that theater is important.

“You have to round out the humanity of whatever you teach,” MacDonald said. “Without human compassion, learning the dynamics of how people treat each other and interact in a caring and affirmative way. It sounds cliche but without that … the world would be a less enjoyable place to be.”

DeMauro said she anticipates working more with the Kitchen Theatre Company in the future.

“[The Kitchen Theatre Company] has been trying to get more youth involved and more youth coming to their productions, so I think we’ll be working together a lot more in the future,” DeMauro said.

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at msmith@ithacavoice.com, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.