Sophia Bush '26 (left) as Peter Pan; Annie Zulick '25 (right) as Captain Darling.
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A New Spin on Neverland

Captain Darling by Kate Isabel Foley ’23 is a dark, feminist adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan. It will make its world premiere April 4-7 in the Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center.

HomepageNewsA New Spin on Neverland

What if Peter Pan isn’t the hero and Captain Hook isn’t the villain? What if the stories handed down to us tell only part of the story?

That’s the premise behind Captain Darling, a dark, feminist adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan written by Ursinus College graduate Kate Isabel Foley ’23. Foley reimagines the famous characters and takes audiences on a journey—one in which Mrs. Darling and Wendy must decide whom to trust and how far they would go to save those they love.

Kate Foley '23 Performances are April 4, 5, and 6 at 7:30 p.m., and April 7 at 2 p.m. in the Lenfest Theater of the Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center on the Ursinus College campus. The April 7 performance will include American Sign Language interpretation. 

“While writing a paper freshman year, I came across a fascinating article that suggested J.M. Barrie originally intended that the actress playing Mrs. Darling also double as Captain Hook,” said Foley, a novelist and playwright from Lebanon, Pa., who is currently pursuing a master’s degree in playwriting. “This doubling never came to be, but I was so intrigued by the idea of Mrs. Darling also being a major player in Neverland, I decided to make her the protagonist.”

Foley wrote Captain Darling as a distinguished honors project in theater and English while she was an Ursinus student. Associate Professor and Chair of Theater Meghan Brodie ’00, another Ursinus alumna, said adaptations offer readers and audience members opportunities for revisiting the stories they thought they knew.

Foley said, “I love adaptation work because of the power it gives a playwright to use a beloved story to spotlight marginalized groups. By reimagining Peter Pan, I’ve turned a predominantly white, male-centric narrative into a feminist, diverse playground.”

It is the first student-authored play Brodie has directed.

“In Captain Darling, Kate centers Mrs. Darling and Wendy, making them multidimensional characters who must navigate life-changing choices,” Brodie said. “With every new draft of the play, I was impressed by the maturity of Kate’s writing.”

To transport the audience to Neverland, Brodie partnered with costume designer Millie Hiibel, Ursinus technical director and production manager Meghan Jones, and Associate Professor of Theater and Dance in Design and Technology Shannon Zura to design and build the world Foley imagined. Similarly, fight director Terri McIntyre brought spirit and authenticity to the many battles fought as Captain Darling pursues her quest.

“We jump from location to location; characters fly and swim; Neverland is inhabited by fairies and mermaids; and there are epic battles. I loved the challenges of embracing Kate’s imagination and telling the Captain Darling story onstage,” Brodie said.

The cast and crew include 16 student actors and many student production assistants across all academic areas of study.

“I’m so thankful Captain Darling’s first performances are on the Lenfest stage,” Foley said. “I hope this story serves as a reminder to us all that, too often, heroes and villains are not the people we expect them to be, and that we should never stop asking questions.”

And from the director’s perspective, Brodie said, “I see every production as an opportunity to build an inclusive community of artists who are learning about themselves and each other as they commit to a collective journey.”

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