Cast of "Peter Pan" soars high in flying rehearsals

Michael Owings, Ethan Cagwin, Erin Payne (Darling siblings) and Samantha Arneson (Peter Pan) learn to fly in Ottumwa's Bridge View Center.

The cast of "Peter Pan" got their first taste of what it's like to fly to Neverland Saturday.

"Peter Pan" is just one production being put on by the American Gothic Performing Arts Festival this summer. The cast of the show donned their harnesses beginning Friday evening and began rehearsing the complicated business of flying.

"It's fantastic, I mean, we don't fly, so having the opportunity to fly is really fun," said Michael Owings, who plays John Darling. "It's a really cool experience."

Watching the actors fly about on the stage, it looks like they're naturals. But the sensation of being lifted off your feet -- and relying on the operators in the wings -- takes some getting used to.

"At first I was nervous, then I got the hang of it," said Ethan Cagwin, who plays the youngest Darling sibling, Michael.

"It was easier than I thought, especially as long as you stay straight up, you just fly!" said Erin Payne, who plays Wendy Darling. "And it's fun."

Samantha Arneson, who was cast as Peter Pan, joins the production from West Des Moines. And while she says meeting new people and working with the cast of 40 adds to the fun, flying is definitely a highlight.

"It's fun, it's a little nerve-wrecking at first, [especially] because you have to learn how to run yourself if you're in the wrong direction, so you have to kick your legs around the other way," Arneson said. "So it's a little hard, but once you get the hang of it, it's not so bad and you get used to it. I actually think it's a little harder to land than it is to actually be up there."

"Peter Pan" opens Saturday, June 29th at 7:30 p.m. at the Bridge View Center in Ottumwa, and also has shows on July 4 at 7 p.m., July 6 at 7:30 p.m. and July 7 at 2 p.m. For tickets and more information on the show, visit the American Gothic Performing Arts' website.