Barrie's 'Afterthought' to Peter Pan lives again

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When the actress Hilda Trevelyan created the role of Wendy in the original production of Peter Pan , its creator J M Barrie was so smitten that he wrote a sequel just for her.

When the actress Hilda Trevelyan created the role of Wendy in the original production of Peter Pan , its creator J M Barrie was so smitten that he wrote a sequel just for her.

Afterthought , effectively a final act to the story of the boy who never grew up, was performed for just one night in 1908 after the main play at the Duke of York's Theatre in London where Peter Pan had premiered four years before.

Now that sequel is to be performed for the first time since, in a rehearsed reading by the Unicorn Theatre, which specialises in performances for children. It will form part of a raft of events marking the centenary of Peter Pan later this month.

David Wood, the children's playwright, who has joined forces with the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden to commemorate what has become a much-loved children's classic, said the sequel was "quite short but very moving".

He said yesterday: "Barrie was very fond of Hilda Trevelyan who was playing Wendy and as a present he wrote Afterthought and presented her with the manuscript. It is an extra act which takes the play further to when Wendy is a grown-up and has a daughter of her own, Jane. Peter Pan comes back and doesn't recognise Wendy but persuades her he should take Jane back with him."

The rehearsed reading is expected to be a highlight of a day of celebrations on Saturday, 18 December, at the Duke of York's Theatre where a parade of famous actors who played the parts of Peter Pan and Captain Hook are to be reunited. They include Susan Hampshire, Googie Withers, Ron Moody, Julia Lockwood and Donald Sinden. The following evening, the Chicken Shed Company is to present a gala performance of Peter Pan itself in aid of the Great Ormond Street Hospital, to which Barrie gave the royalties of the work in an act of generosity from which it still benefits.

Wendy Craig and Susannah York, who both played Peter, and Ron Moody, a Captain Hook seven times despite being best known as Dickens' Fagin, also turned out yesterday for the launch of a small centenary exhibition at the Theatre Museum.

It includes one of the earliest known Peter Pan costumes, for Pauline Chase who played the part from 1906 to 1913 and had hundreds of letters from children wanting to be taught how to fly, and an Edwardian flying harness from one of the first productions.

Mr Moody donned a fake hook and said the key factor in the role was to remember to keep your best hand free for the sword fights with Peter Pan. "So I was a left-handed Hook," he said.

Wendy Craig, who took the role at the Scala theatre in London, recalled her thrill at winning the part. "I've never been as excited by anything as when I was asked to play Peter Pan."

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