Peter Pan Set Design by Jeanne Benedict

by Jeanne Benedict on April 3, 2011

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Many have noticed that I’ve been “away” from my on line life for a little while. I’ve been being a mom! Or rather, volunteering my artistic abilities to design and construct the set of Peter Pan at my son’s school along with my TV set decorator husband, John Sparano. It’s been great and very rewarding.

Peter Pan Nursery and Rough Sketch

Our school is fortunate to have an amazing arts program and a community of parents who work in the motion picture and TV biz, so the kids who are in the play and attend the show experience theater at an inspired level.

It breaks my heart to see so many arts programs cut in the California school system and around the nation. It is my hope that any one reading this (i.e. all you mommy bloggers specializing in kids’ parties and more) will see how you can put those talents for throwing your child a once in a lifetime 1st year birthday party to work in the future by crafting unique scenery or props for a school play production. 

After all, most of the “bling” on the Peter Pan Nursery set was created using a Cricut Machine (nope, not in a deal with them at the moment, just a serious fan of the product). Cricut has a variety of cartiridges with gorgeous images that you can size to fit your project. The purple damask cut-out on the walls are the “Filigree” design from the “Potpourri Basket” cartridge. I believe the gold scrolls on the walls and bed are from the “Home Decor” cartridge, and the letters on the bed are from the “Winter Woodland” cartridge. I used a Victorian bouquet image and Modge Podge to decoupage the flowers on to the bed which was simply cut out of OSB and painted.

We had to be extremely crafty and economical with our sets given a 24-foot-deep-by-30-foot-wide stage. The flats did double-duty as nursery walls and then Neverland trees on their backside with their support jacks put to use as tree roots. I painted leafy cut-outs and legs as a whimsical midstage border and tree tops for the four tree flats. Another storage-saver was the use of large black boxes, which were the beds in the nursery scene (covered by floral bedding), and then risers behind a ledge facade in Neverland.

The big white circle is a moon that we projected an animated flying scene on during the “I’m Flying” song in the nursery, which was created by my 7th grade son, Dylan Sparano or Dylaneggs on Youtube.  The center nursery curtain opened to reveal the moon and the animation was a starry night sky with Big Ben, the Big Dipper, and more on to the island of Neverland as the kids and Peter Pan flew on cables. It was quite spectacular and a great way for my “behind-the-scenes” son to participate. (Proud mom – I know!) During the Neverland scene we projected a red pirate ship gobo on the moon which is tough to see in the photos. 

Neverland Set and Rough Sketch

As for the Pirate Ship, or what you can see of it in this photo, I put the set back to the nursery formation due to a quick change at the end of the play, and covered the walls with black duvytene and nets. I also sewed grommets to the middle of the ochre Neverland backdrop and hoisted them up to resemble sails on a ship. One really inexpensive trick we did for this set that was simply dazzling – we glued silver sequins to the black curtain which appeared in every scene as if a sparkling night sky.

I painted a Jolly Roger flag and we had a red plank on the front stage extension which Captian Hook jumped off! We also had an awesome ship’s wheel that you can barely see at the edge of the photo. Oh yeah, and the pirate ship in the back is made with “planks” or slats from a wooden Venetian blind that was in my garage and a recycled bed headboard that I dumpster dove for!   

So, that’s what I’ve been up to party peeps. Hanging out with middle-schoolers in Neverland and trying to spark a lifetime love of the theater in a few of them!

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Michelle Benoit April 12, 2011 at 3:13 pm

You are such an amazing, amazing, talented woman. How lucky the school is to have you sharing your talents. Your son must be so proud and happy to have you and his Dad involved in his school. I’m a mother of 2 little ones and I love what I do. My chocolate blog is so much fun and it can be difficult at times to find the balance of work and motherhood. But our children need us. Everyday, they need our love, attention and time. Glad you keep that as priority #1.


Jeanne Benedict April 12, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Thank you so very much Michelle.Your comment means the world to me. My family is my life!


Dave Neugart August 16, 2011 at 5:49 pm

We are a local non-profit children’s theater group located in Temecula,Ca. we are doing Peter Pan at the Bob Burton theater in Fallbrook in January 2012. Any possibility of using or renting any of your amazing sets you’ve constructed?


Jeanne Benedict August 16, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Nice to speak with you Dave. I’ll talk to the school, find out what was kept in storage, and see if we can work something out. In any event, feel free to call me or email about the set vs. flying logistics. It’s an incredibly magical show!


Donna Kehl April 27, 2014 at 1:58 am

Hello Jeanne,

I love your set designs for Peter Pan. I teach Drama and am in the process of creating our sets for Peter Pan, and your concepts have really helped me formulate some ideas on how to put my sets together. Thanks so much for sharing your blog!

Donna Kehl


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