Matthew Scott Moore

Peter Pan (Mr. Darling/Captain Hook)

J. M. Barrie’s classic fantasy, Peter Pan, premiered in London in late December 1904. Ever since, it has been one of the most popular plays of all, and a must-see for children. Matthew had long wanted to play Peter, and one of his directors discussed thie idea with him during his NTID-theater days, in 1982. That production didn’t materialize. But in Spring 2001, NTID’s Performing Arts Department informed Matthew that they would be staging the world’s first full-scale ASL version with Deaf actors in May 2002. Would he be interested in playing Captain Hook? He was indeed.

Matthew took on the demanding double role of George Darling (the grumbling father of Wendy, John, and Michael Darling) and Captain Hook (the villainous persecutor of children) with gusto. He notes that this was his first role as a “bad guy.”

Since this was an innovative ASL production, some radical adaptations had to be made, such as Hook’s dialogue with Peter during their climactic duel. Matthew brought his characteristic ASL wizardry to the roles, giving the characters’ familiar lines a new dimension of visual wit that cannot be captured in voice scripts. Director Jim Orr introduced numerous x-handshapes into Mr. Darling’s lines in the first scene, making a “secret” and hilarious connection between the respectable father and the black-hearted pirate.

The audiences loved Matthew’s performance, which drew critical raves. One of the voice performers told him that in the scene aboard the Jolly Roger, when Peter flies onto the ship and conceals himself from Hook, some of the children tried to help Hook out by caling to him: “Peter Pan’s over there! Peter Pan’s over there!” Of course, Moore couldn’t hear them, but their spontaneous attempt to help Hook suggests that at least some of the kids fell under Hook’s spell—or Matthew’s.

Matthew says that his role as Hook was, physically speaking, his toughest. NTID’s Damita Peace designed an appropriately flamboyant costume for him in wine-red brocade and satin, trimmed with marigold, complete with three towering ostrich plumes in orange, green, and purple—quite literally “over the top.”

After the play, the ferocious-looking hook (which was also custom-crafted by the NTID Theater crew) was presented to Matthew as a souvenir, and is now displayed on a living-room table.

A souvenir ticket from the first Friday-night performance, May 3, 2002. A total of 10 performances were staged. Nine of these were public, and one was invitation-only. (Most NTID productions have 5 performances.) This was one of the most successful productions in NTID’s history . . . perhaps the most successful.

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