Charleston High School Students Learn How to Fly




Charleston High School Students Learn How to Fly
By: Kate Scott

(Charleston, MO)--A Heartland high school production of “Peter Pan” is soaring to new levels with the help of a famous stage-flight company.

The Las Vegas based company “Foy Inventerprises” has trained the most famous Peter Pans of our time, including Jean Arthur, Mary Martin, Sandy Duncan, and Cathy Rigby.  And for the past few days, the company has had an instructor in Charleston, Missouri, helping four young actors there “take off.”

“Peter Pan” is a production you don't often see at the high school level, simply because the play has some pretty “high” standards.  “It's been a dream ever since I’ve been doing the plays to do ‘Peter Pan,’” says Charleston High School play director Dede Reed.  “But I kept looking at that page in the script that says you have to have some way to fly these people, and I just didn't have the nerve.  And it takes a lot of money.” 

But this year, Reed decided to take a leap of faith, and try to raise the money to do the difficult show.  And thanks to six thousand dollars in donations from around the community, she was able to hire the most famous flyers in the business!  “They are the best,” says Reed.  “We were just lucky that they had that weekend open and they said they’d be glad to do it…They didn’t mind coming to little-bitty Charleston for this.”

Chip Christensen is the Flying Director for Foy Inventerprises.  “We do theatrical flying effects around the world,” he tells Heartland News.  “We do Broadway shows, we did the Grammy Awards this year, we work on a lot of Disney stage productions…”  The company’s founder, Peter Foy, invented a special harness system nearly fifty years ago, which makes the magic of stage flight possible. 

Now Christensen has been sharing that magic with the young actors from Charleston.  He would not, however, tell Heartland News exactly how the system works.  “We want to keep the magic alive,” he explained.  “And another reason is we don’t want people to try it on their own.”

The young actor portraying Peter Pan, Josh Moxley, told Heartland News his own formula for flight.  “You have to think happy thoughts,” he smiled.  “And you need fairy dust, and a little bit of practice.”  But we think that’s just “Pan-talk.”  Director Dede Reed later revealed, “It's not as easy as it looks to fly. These kids are going to have some bruising and some chafing.” 

Rett Thompson plays John Darling in the play.  “The harness is a little uncomfortable, just because you have to be strapped in so tightly,” he explains.  “But it’s not scary…It’s kind of exhilarating to know that you’re being lifted up without doing anything.”  And according to Justin Mercer, who portrays Michael Darling, doing “nothing” is the key to a successful lift-off.  “They want you to just stand there,” he tells Heartland News.  “They (stagehands) do all the work.  They lift nearly all your body weight. You just stand there and go.”  Jessica Harvell, who plays Wendy Darling, is enjoying the experience.  “I love it!” she exclaims. “You get really sore, but it's lots of fun.”

Now that the young actors have logged plenty of air miles, they can't wait to show off their new moves.  “A lot of friends have showed up and watched us flying and they really liked it,” says Moxley.  “So I’m wanting to see how everyone else feels.”

You can catch Charleston High School's production of “Peter Pan” on May 8th, 9th, and 10th, at 7:30 each night.  It will be held in the high school auditorium.  Tickets cost five dollars for adults, and three dollars for students.