The question the cast members of Peter Pan posed to each other during rehearsals at Manitoba Theatre for Young People was: If you were given the opportunity to never grow up, would you?

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This article was published 27/11/2014 (2353 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The question the cast members of Peter Pan posed to each other during rehearsals at Manitoba Theatre for Young People was: If you were given the opportunity to never grow up, would you?

Colin Doyle plays the title role in the MTYP holiday show and he didn't have an immediate answer. With his diminutive stature and youthful face, the Toronto actor has been able to thrive in theatre for young people.

"I get nervous about growing up, I really do," says Doyle, a Dora Award winner. "For me, I am only starting to see the benefit of growing up at the ripe old age of 36."

Scottish writer J.M. Barrie's 1904 creation has always been a role model for the York University graduate.

"Having fun and being carefree, less responsible is the way I wanted to be," he says. "Sometimes, if you ask my girlfriend, there is a lack of responsibility. I hang out with the boys a bit too much.

"When I complain, no one takes me seriously, she says, 'Dude, look at what you're putting forth. What's your expectation when one minute you're Peter Pan and the next minute you're trying to be Bill Gates? It's confusing.'"

The boy who wouldn't grow up is one of the most celebrated, hauntingly resonant stories ever told, perpetually adapted for stage and screen. A new television version called Peter Pan Live! starring Allison Williams airs on NBC next week. Pan, another movie version, featuring Hugh Jackman and Amanda Seyfried, hits the big screen in 2015.

MTYP is reviving its high-flying 2000 production of Peter Pan, adapted by Regina mystery maven and playwright Gail Bowen. That first run was precedent-setting -- the company's most ambitious production, boasting the highest budget, the longest run and a one-show tickets sales record of 14,700. Management hopes for a repeat performance in December with a production that again features children's entertainer Fred Penner playing the hissable Captain Hook and Sven Johansson's flying machines sending Peter, Wendy and John aloft.

The idea of growing old gracefully -- double chins and all -- is anathema to a growing segment of society seeking to turn back the clock on their looks with cosmetic enhancements.

"Peter Pan still has special resonance, because a lot of us are still questioning the whole idea of growing old," says Bowen, who proudly declares, without being asked, that she is a 72-year-old grandmother. "No one wants to get old. I think that's the saddest thing of all, wanting to remain ever-young. I can't stand the idea of being 20 again."

Peter Pan flies into Winnipeg just as another legendary man in green is playing nearby at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre in The Heart of Robin Hood. David Farr's re-imagining of Sherwood Forest's robbing hood makes a true heroine out of Maid Marion.

Bowen also gives Wendy more prominence in her adaptation of a book that was once titled Peter and Wendy.

"I think what I am doing is redressing the balance," Bowen says. "I was very aware when I was doing our Peter Pan I wanted them to be equal characters. The balance and tension would be better."

Doyle was wowed byThe Heart of Robin Hood and says how lucky Winnipeg theatre-goers are to have two iconic characters swashbuckling across and above local stages. It's as much fun as it looks.

He proposes that both theatres launch fundraisers that would allow patrons onto their sets. Doyle thinks RMTC should charge members of the public $10 for one slide down the Robin Hood ramp, while MTYP ask $5 for a quick flight to Neverland.

"I know for sure RMTC would be rolling in money and I think MTYP would really do well, too," says Doyle, who appeared at MTYP in Offensive Fouls in 2012. "I would be shocked if people didn't want to leave these shows wanting to do that."

The actor has come around, unlike the fun-loving Peter Pan, to acknowledging the benefits of growing up, wrinkles and all.

"There is so much you learn by growing up," he says. "I was dreading 30, but to be honest, this has been the best decade of my life so far. I wouldn't have imagined that when I was 20."

kevin.prokosh@freepress.mb.ca