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"Peter Pan in Michael's Nursery" - Programme

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"Peter Pan in Michael's Nursery" - The front of the programme specially printed for the one-off performance in 20 February 1906 - "my favourite programme of the play" as Barrie called it.

Peter Ll.D. (aged 8) wrote to his grandfather, "Some actors and actresses from Peter Pan came down on Father’s birthday in two large motor cars, to act the nursery. Peter Pan is about a boy who ran away from home the day he was born, and lived in the Never-never-never-Land. One day he came back to the house of some people call the Darlings, and in the night took away the three children away. The father was so sorry he had taken the dog, Nana, out of the room that he lived in the kennel. Then one day they came back, and Wendy, the girl, was allowed to go to Peter, every spring cleaning. ... PS I am sending you a programme of Peter Pan in Michael’s nursery.

Peter commented in his Morgue:

This was for John LD’s 80th birthday. The letter may perhaps be regarded as historic, if only on account of its being the earliest known example of its composer’s skill as a “blurb” writer. At that age one saw nothing particularly remarkable in a play, or a piece of a play, being brought down from London to be performed in one’s home in the country; but when you come to think of it, it was a gesture in the grand style, even for J.M.B. That it should have happened on his birthday, February 20, I take to be purely fortuitous. I have a copy of the programme, most likely the one I sent to John LD with this letter. I remember very little of the affair, so little that I can’t be certain whether it was George or Jack or I, or all three of us, who fell heavily for Miss Winifred Geoghegan (the understudy for Cissie Loftus, that year’s principal boy-who-wouldn’t- grow-up) who played the name-part at the Egerton House production.

[AB: Winifred Geoghegan played Michael in the original 1904/05 production, and Curly from 1905/06 till 1907/08. In the appendix to his “Fifty Years of Peter Pan”, Roger Lancelyn Green lists (on p.239) three “Special private performances by Juvenile Members of the London Company, at the Duke of York’s Theatre.” According to Roger, “these performances, organised entirely by the children of the company, originated with Winifred Geoghegan who was a brilliant mimic. The very first performance was given on January 26th, 1906, and consisted only of the ‘Nursery Scenes’. Winifred Geoghegan played Peter Pan, Leslie Oswell was Mr Darling, Phyllis Beadon was Mrs Darling, Ela Q. May was Wendy, A. Ganker was John, Geraldine Wilson was Michael, Ernest Marini was Nana, and Alice Robinson was Liza. It is not certain whether there were any further performances.” It seems clear from this that Roger was unaware of the performance in Michael’s nursery, given only a few weeks later on February 20th 1906. Although Barrie himself is not listed as one of the performers, he does appear as the First Cabman in the children’s performance the following year on February 19th, 1907 – the same part he played in Michael’s Nursery.]

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