NOW that the restrictions on audience numbers at theatre shows are easing, high schools and youth groups in and around Newcastle are able to stage shows that will have people of all ages watching them intently and enjoying them.
This month, for example, Belmont Christian College's Secondary School will present Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure that has been a global hit since it premiered in 1996, with six performances at Warners Bay Theatre, in Lake Street, between Thursday, June 17 and Saturday, June 19.
And in the following week, which will be the last before the June-July school holidays, Waratah's St Philip's Christian College will stage High School Musical, which was adapted from a 2006 Disney television film of that name that was so popular it led to two follow-on stories that were also converted to stage shows.
The St Philip's production, which also features high school students, will have six performances between Thursday, June 24, and Saturday, June 26.
There have been many adaptations of English playwright J.M. Barrie's play Peter Pan that initially had the longer title Peter Pan, or the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, since it was first performed in 1904, with Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure the most popular of the musical versions.
And as the full title of the original play indicates it certainly has an amusing fairy-tale nature.
The story begins in London, with a couple, Mr and Mrs Darling, reluctantly going to an evening dinner and leaving their three children, Wendy, Michael and John, under the watchful eyes of their maid, Lisa, and Nana, their dog.
But, in their absence, a glittering and mischievous fairy, Tinker Bell, suddenly appears, followed by the flying Peter Pan, a boy who is concerned that his shadow is beginning to fall away.
Wendy helps to re-attach the shadow and then accepts Peter's invitation to fly with him for a brief visit to his island homeland, Neverland, where, he says, "you never grow old".
And once Tinker Bell sprinkles Wendy and her brothers with flying dust, they head into the night sky with him.
But Neverland isn't the paradise Peter claimed it to be, with Peter and the children encountering bloodthirsty pirates and malevolent mermaids, and Captain James Hook, Peter Pan's nemesis who is forever followed by a deadly, ticking Crocodile.
There are also many dirty and ferocious young runaways, with nicknames such as Grimy, Snotty, Noisy and Messy.
The storyline of Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure was put together by playwright Willis Hall, with music and lyrics by the Mary Poppins team, George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.
Chris Stewart, who heads Belmont Christian College Secondary School's Creative Arts team, said that when he and his wife, Naomi, who is the school's senior drama teacher, heard the musical soundtrack they felt it was modern and vibe.
Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure, which has two alternating casts from years 7 to 12, and runs for two hours, including an interval, has 12pm and 7pm shows on Thursday and Friday, June 17 and 18, and performances at 2pm and 7pm on Saturday, June 19.
Tickets: Family - 2 adults, 2 children $80; Concession - senior or students $15; 1 adult $25.
Back row - $10 - $60. This seating section (12 seats) has a slight visual obstruction of the top of the set, hence reduced ticket price. Trybooking.com
Heading back to East High
The various theatre shows associated with High School Musical have also been popular in Newcastle.
Pantseat Performing Arts staged Disney's High School Musical Jr in 2016 and Disney's High School Musical 2 Jr in 2017, Bling Performing Arts Disney's High School Musical in 2018, and Australian Dance and Talent Centre High School Musical Jr in 2019.
St Philip's Christian College is doing the full-length High School Musical at the Civic Theatre, with performances on Thursday and Friday, June 24 and 25, at 10.30am and 7pm, and Saturday, June 26, at 2pm and 7pm.
The show will run for 2-1/2 hours.
Tickets: $32; Concession $25; Under 18 $19; Groups 10+ $19; Civic Theatre Subscribers $25. Civic Theatre Ticket Office can be contacted on 4929 1977.
Disney's smash hit movie musical will come to life on the Civic Theatre stage, with audiences seeing that Troy, Gabriella and the students of East High must deal with issues of identity, friends and family while balancing their classes and extracurricular activities.
It's the first day after winter break at East High.
The Jocks, Brainiacs, Thespians and Skaters find their cliques, recount their vacations and look forward to the new year.
Basketball team captain and resident jock, Troy, discovers that the brainy Gabriella, a girl he met singing karaoke on his ski trip, has just enrolled at East High.
They cause an upheaval when they decide to audition for the high school musical that is being led by Ms Darbus.
That teacher tells her class that the show will be Juliet and Romeo, a new version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, that was written by Kelsi Nielsen, a shy East High student.
Sharpay Evans, who has been the lead in every school musical since kindergarten, is president of the drama club and the school's most popular student.
She is interested in Troy but hates Gabriella.
And although many students resent the threat posed to the "status quo", an alliance between Troy and Gabriella might just open the door for others to shine as well.
Disney's High School Musical is fun for the whole family.