An Encinitas brother and sister will take part in a production of a beloved fairy tale with modern-day twists later this month.
Hayden Luedde, 14, and his sister, Hunter Luedde, 11, will perform in Lythgoe Family Panto’s production of “Peter Pan and Tinker Bell” from Dec. 21 through Dec. 31 at the Balboa Theatre in San Diego.
The show follows the classic story of Peter Pan and his journey of taking Wendy, John and Michael to Neverland, a fantastical land where children never grow up and interact with pirates and mermaids.
However, this version is a “pantomime” (or “panto” for short), a popular form of humor in England that transforms a fairy tale by introducing modern music, jokes and dances, as well as audience participation.
“Panto appeals to all ages,” said Hayden, who plays John. “They make jokes for little kids but also ones that the little kids will think are funny but have a deeper meaning for the adults. The way they interact with the audience — getting kids and adults involved — is great. The comedy and timing of the jokes are just perfect.”
Starring Riley Costello of “Hairspray Live!” as Peter Pan and Ashley Argota of “The Fosters” as Tinker Bell, “Peter Pan and Tinker Bell” includes characters like Smee breaking the fourth wall by interacting with the audience directly. Characters also often ad-lib their lines, trying to make each other laugh, Hayden said.
Audiences will also be familiar with performances of songs by modern artists such as Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, One Direction and the Bee Gees.
“People know these songs pretty well, and I can definitely see people singing along to them,” Hayden said.
Hunter added that panto is a “way to show everybody they can be involved in [the play] as much as the cast is.”
“Peter Pan and Tinker Bell” is Hayden’s third Lythgoe show and Hunter’s second.
Hayden said John — who he described as “brainy” and a “voice of reason between his siblings” — is his biggest role yet, but he’s not nervous.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “I’ve known these people for so long, and they’re like family now. I feel really comfortable and confident going into this. I feel like it’s going to be a great experience learning and moving up the chain.”
Hunter, who is playing a Lost Boy, agreed, adding she is looking forward to working with her brother again. The pair was previously cast in Lythgoe’s “A Snow White Christmas” show last year.
“This is just a way to express myself and have fun,” she said. “Being able to do this with my brother is awesome. He’s my support system, always.”
Tickets for the show range from $25 to $64 and can be purchased at 1100 Third Avenue in San Diego or online at bit.ly/2iwi7Of