A GoPride Interview

Kurt Perry

Discover a magical musical journey: Kurt Perry as Smee in 'Peter Pan' through April 7th

Fri. March 29, 2024  by Matt Inawat

I am a firm believer that artists know when they're artists
Kurt Perry

kurt perry

The production of the Tony Award-winning classic, Peter Pan, is ready to whisk Chicago audiences away on an unforgettable adventure that has captivated hearts for nearly 70 years and has been reimagined for a new generation.

Tickets are now available for the show, which is at Broadway In Chicago's James M. Nederlander Theatre (24 W. Randolph St.) for an exclusive two-week engagement from March 26th to April 7th.

ChicagoPride.com sat with the musical's comedic and favorite classic sidekick "Smee," played by talented Kurt Perry right before Pan's opening night.

MI: (Matt Inawat, GoPride) Kurt, tell us a little bit about the show. And how'd you get "Hooked" playing Smee in Peter Pan?

KP: (Kurt Perry) I did not have much familiarity with the musical incarnation of Peter Pan and I had fallen in love with it through the process of this production. Peter Pan, the musical, has been around for over 70 years and even just the story of Peter Pan has been around for over 100. One of the things I love about this show is that this is a story that we get to share with families and intergenerational; and it's a cultural touchstone and everyone has some familiarity with the show and the story. What I love about our production is not only do we get to share it with new generations, but I hope that we've accomplished that we get to share the story with new communities because like to call our incarnation of Peter Pan, "a Peter Pan for a new generation."  One of the things that was very important to us was that anybody who walks through those theater doors gets to see themselves on stage or can picture themselves flying away with Peter at the end of the show.

And so I think that's sort of the crux of what is so fabulous about our production.

MI: How did you prepare, both physically and mentally, for the role of Smee?

KP: Coming into the audition process for the role, I did not have a lot of familiarity with the musical. So I took some big swings in my comedy choices and my acting choices. 
And this was a show in process at the time because we redid the book; a lot of the score was changed, the keys were changed, new arrangement, new dance arrangements, new arrangements of songs, and we have songs that were cut from the original production that were added in for our production. So auditioning for a show as it is still in formation is a chaotic experience. And then as we got into the rehearsal process, you get new pages every day and with our incredible book writer, Larissa Fasthorse. 

So the process is like you are physically and mentally kind of discombobulated. I was basically discombobulated for about two months because you were constantly learning new things; and we're changing choreography and we were doing new book scenes and then things would get changed and things would get cut and things get put back in. But that is sort of the joy of working in developmental theater. Everything's a little bit chaos, but we're all sort of clinging to the life raft together. In my preparation for the role, I wanted to formulate this character that -- I had someone say to me in an interview that they they pictured me as the perfect wife to Hook and I never really thought that way. 

The way that I always thought was sort of like a Miranda priestly situation, like Devil Wears Prada; like Smee's job is to mitigate and solve problems before they become problems. It's Smee's whole ethos. And so I think that a lot of the comedy that I mined from this character is him either trying to put things back together after Hook's broken them or keep them from breaking in the first place.

So that was a lot of the building of the character in my mind, "what would Anne Hathaway in Devil Wears Prada?"

MI: Perfect analogy. So if YOU could give Smee "the perfect wife" one piece of advice, what would it be?

KP: Truly honest -- I would help him get out of there! You're too good for him!

MI: It's really that much of a toxic relationship.

KP: Yeah. Get out of there, girl. God, girl, get a grip!

MI: Is there a particular scene in the show you feel most connected to?

KP: The introduction of the Pirates is my favorite part of the show because it does sort of feel like you hit the ground running and you're sort of on fire.

 because we, what's ni, what's fun and what, first of all, it's, 

It's a tough scene because we come out of the transition into Neverland, which is some of the most spectacular theatrical magic I've ever seen. And I've seen a lot of theatrical magic. The first time I watched it, I was like, "oh wow, I have to compete with that." We are given such good material by Larissa Fasthorse and it's so funny and it's the first time the audience sees Hook. It's the first time you see the physical reaction from the kids and the adults. That's got to be my favorite scene because it's really funny. We also get the privilege of introducing our new edited version of Tiger Lily, played by Raye Zaragoza who is spectacular. Getting to watch the audience react to this old character that's been made new is really fun for me.

MI: How did you find your passion for acting? Gow did you get started in the theater?

KP: I was very lucky because I grew up in an arts family. My father was a musician. My aunt was a musician. My grandfather was a musician. So, music was a big part of my life. It still is. 

I play several instruments. I have worked in classical music. I have worked in musical theater. I worked as an instrumentalist as well as a singer. So that's sort of where it started. And musical theater was sort of always part of the conversation because it was important to my dad that I be exposed to lots
of styles. 

I grew up listening to Nat King Cole, Diana Krall, Pavarotti, Sutherland, you name it. 

I had a real penchant for Starlight Express. And my dad took me to London and I saw Starlight Express and I think that's what planted the seed. And then I did musical theater through high school. And then I went to school for classical music because there was a transitional time where I fell in love with opera and I didn't really know which way I wanted to go. So I tried to do both I think I've done both pretty successfully if I do say so myself. I think that the passion for acting is always there. I am a firm believer that artists know when they're artists. Like you are born with this need to be an artist and you're an artist, whether you're working as a professional or you're doing it as a hobby, you are still an artist. And I think that's just something innately in me as a person.

MI: You're in Chicago for a couple weeks, is there anything on your top things to do list while you're in the Windy City?

KP: I wrote to a couple of friends who are from Chicago or have worked here or have lived here for a significant amount of time and I've been given a list of things to do.

I have visited Chicago before. I have been to the Bean, which we love. I have to go to the Art Institute and see Sunday on La Grande.

And my very dear friend has recommended several food options for us to do. 

And this is very odd, but I love an aquarium. That's sort of been a theme on tour every city that we stop and we go to the aquarium. We did it in Baltimore,  we went to the Cincinnati Zoo, and now here we're going to make sure to hit up the Shedd Aquarium and the Lincoln Park Zoo.

MI: I mean, you're gonna be pretty busy getting all that done in two weeks. 

KP: Listen, we go, go, go!


Individual tickets for PETER PAN are now on sale and range from $50.00 - $135.00 with a select number of premium tickets available. Tickets are available now for groups of 10 or more by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710.


Broadway In Chicago was created in July 2000 and over the past 24 years has grown to be one of the largest commercial touring homes in the country. A Nederlander Presentation, Broadway In Chicago lights up the Chicago Theater District entertaining up to 1.7 million people annually in five theatres. Broadway In Chicago presents a full range of entertainment, including musicals and plays, on the stages of five of the finest theatres in Chicago’s Loop including the Cadillac Palace Theatre, CIBC Theatre, James M. Nederlander Theatre, Auditorium Theatre, and just off the Magnificent Mile, the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place. For more information and tickets, visit www.BroadwayInChicago.com.


Interviewed by Matt Inawat. Ron Matthew Inawat is president of the GoPride Network and contributes to ChicagoPride.com, PrideLA.com and other sites within the GoPride Network.