Lindsey Roberts pulls on a ragged, paint-stained pair of sneakers in a color that’s difficult to identify. “These are my [Peter] Pan shoes,” she says, pulling the laces tight. “I’ve worn these shoes for Pan every year I’ve done it.”
Onstage at Playhouse on the Square, where Peter Pan opens this weekend, technicians are working with harnesses and wires, preparing to teach the young actors playing Wendy, Michael, and John how to fly.
Roberts (pictured on the left with her “co-Pan” Laura Stracko) started playing Peter Pan in 1999, sharing the role with Playhouse regular Courtney Oliver. But lately, she hasn’t been seeing too much of J.M. Barrie’s boy who won’t grow up. Playhouse shelved the popular Christmas show in 2006, before the construction of a new theater that would allow Peter Pan to fly like never before.
“I found out I was pregnant,” Roberts says, remembering the last flight in her Pan shoes and anticipating her next. “I felt like it would be different as a parent. I thought it would affect me more in my relationship with the Lost Boys. But it actually has done more to help me understand Wendy’s importance as a mother figure. [It helps me understand] why I’m trying to convince her with all of my heart, using every trick I have, to come back to Neverland with me: ‘Look, I’ve got this really great island where it’s winter, spring, summer, and fall all at the same time. And also I can fly.’”
Roberts, whose strong dancer’s body and angular elfin features make her such a natural, stands and stretches and makes her way to the stage to help with the harnesses. For the first time on a Playhouse stage, actors can spin in their harnesses. They can move in directions they’ve never moved before, and it’s clear that Roberts is as anxious to take to the sky as the kids are. “Oh my gosh, it’s so different. It’s so awesome,” she says.