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The boy who won’t grow up inexplicably does so in director Fred Sternfeld’s handsome but strangely unfocused “Peter Pan” at Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood. Barrie.

Of late, fortunately, Peter has enjoyed a more serious re examination by several postmodernist productions, including Lee Breuer’s fascinating 1996 “Peter and Wendy” puppet piece in New York and, last year, Matthew Earnest’s provocative “Peter Pan” at Porthouse Theatre in Cuyahoga Heights.

When it was first announced, the Beck Center production of the ’54 musical promised to be another such investigation.

That’s because Sternfeld cast an adult, college age man, John Paul Soto, as Peter, a role written by Barrie to be played by a woman (and which almost always has been since).

Problem is, Sternfeld does nothing to make something of this casting choice. At least that was the case when the production opened last weekend.

Soto, a talented student at the Cleveland State University drama program, looks impish when fully clothed and performing on a stage filled with other adults. But wearing Peter’s skimpy togs and horsing around with a bunch of Lost Boys, he’s a brawling heavyweight.

And those songs “I’ve Got to Crow,” “I’m Flying,” “I Won’t Grow Up” just sound wrong coming out of such a bulked up Peter. It simply won’t to coin a phrase fly. Nor is there any justification elsewhere in the production to support it.

It says nothing, expands nothing,
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clarifies nothing.

Fortunately, however, there is rationale for Sternfeld’s casting of Michael Mauldin, the head of Soto’s department at CSU, whose Capt. Hook not only drips evil but wallows in it, making Peter’s nemesis a buckler with more swish than swash.

And Mauldin’s ridiculously drawn out, biting and effeminate line readings and his high heeled prancing are also just plain fun to look at.

As are set designer Ben Needham’s Act 3 pirate ship, Aimee Kluiber’s endless parade of fancy and fanciful costumes, and Alexis Generette Floyd’s precise execution of choreographer Martin Cespedes’ manic movements for Tiger Lily.

Much of the rest of the production, however, is slow going.

The scenes refuse to flow with any unity; the orchestra is often out of tune; the stage flying looks clumsy; and many of the supporting players are amateurish.

The little ones in the audience will probably eat it up because it is, after all, “Peter Pan,” full of pirates and animal costumes and flights of fancy.

But for if you’re one of those discerning “grown up people” looking for what Shaw and others have found in the play over the decades, Sternfeld’s half baked attempt to spice things up might stick to your palate like three hours’ worth of the peanut butter named for you know who.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is undergoing a massive transformation,
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with a fresh look and new exhibits and attractions. Here the lowdown.