Becoming Pan

Melanie Moore bursts onto the Finding Neverland stage with a gigantic center-split leap the moment the curtain rises. She’s dressed as Peter Pan—yet over the course of the two-and-a-half hour Broadway retelling of J.M. Barrie’s path to creating Peter Pan, Moore dons nine costumes, six pairs of shoes and four wigs. In fact, her backstage quick-change choreography is just as intense as Mia Michael’s high-energy onstage choreography. “My fastest costume change is about 45 seconds,” Moore says. “It’s certainly never boring!”

What does it take to prepare for such a whirlwind? And what does this season’s most buzzed-about Broadway show actually look like backstage? To find out, we followed Moore as she prepared for an evening performance at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

Melanie Moore (as Peter Pan) flying over the cast of Finding Neverland (Carol Rosegg, courtesy Richard Kornberg & Associates)

1. Once Moore arrives at the stage door, she signs in before heading up to her dressing room. “We have to be at the theater 30 minutes before curtain, but I tend to get here about 45 minutes before that,” she says. “I put my wig on at the half-hour call, and I like to be basically ready to go once I’m wearing it.”

Moore's dressing room (photo by Matthew Murphy)

2. Moore shares a dressing room on the fourth floor of the theater with three other dancers. They all do their own makeup.

3. Next, Moore gets her hair wig-ready. She twists tiny sections and pins them close to her head.

4. Moore warms up wherever she can—often in her dressing room, or, if there’s room, onstage. “I do so much jumping and running around in the show,” she says. “I usually start on the floor, stretching out.”

(Photo by Matthew Murphy)

 

 

5. The wig master helps Moore put on a wig cap that she wears throughout the show. Her microphone is attached to the top of the cap. “I wear four wigs, starting with the Peter Pan wig,” Moore says. “But my favorite is the mullet I put on for the pirate scene at the end of Act I. I requested to wear that wig. I’ve decided that my pirate name is Mandy Jo.”

6. The stage is kept really cold because of the dry ice used during the show. “The floor is freezing, so I usually keep my Uggs on before the show,” Moore says. “I start out barefoot, so I need to keep my feet as warm as possible.”

(Photo by Matthew Murphy)

7. Finally, it’s time to put on the first costume and become Peter Pan. Moore actually has two Pan costumes: “This is my regular one—it’s really tight so I can be lifted and do a lot of partnering,” she says. “The other is my Flying Pan costume. It’s big enough to fit a full-size harness underneath.”

When the Tinker Bell lights aren't onstage they're stored in four buckets off stage right (photo by Matthew Murphy)

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