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The magic is still there.

Stardust and brassy tunes animate the new version of "Peter Pan" that opened Thursday at Ordway Center. Director Lonny Price's verve-filled production, which is launching a 50-city national tour in St. Paul, is exuberantly transporting. Artfully adapted by Larissa FastHorse with new lyrics by Amanda Green, it feels complete.

And it speaks eloquently to youngsters and oldsters alike.

"Peter Pan" has been a tricky property to stage, even with updates. Scottish playwright J.M. Barrie's original 1904 play, and many subsequent adaptations, including the 1954 Broadway musical, lean heavily on racist stereotypes.

FastHorse has worked meticulously to remove that damaging content while keeping the story's playful and marvel-filled heart.

Conducted with bright energy by Jonathan Marrow and choreographed with vigor by Lorin Latarro, this "Peter Pan" is gratifyingly entertaining, even with quibbles. Price's production has strong, confident performances by principals Nolan Almeida as Peter, Hawa Kamara as Wendy and Cody Garcia as Captain Hook.

The design is similarly arresting. Anna Louizos' green-tinged, environmentally conscious scenography is coupled with David Bengali's projections to make you feel like you're riding a rollercoaster through the stars. The action readily zips viewers from the Darlings' humdrum house to pirate ships and to Neverland.

Choreographer Paul Rubin's flying sequences are breathtaking and quick. When Peter first arrives, it's after a preamble by Tinker Bell. Blink and you'll miss it.

"Peter Pan" is all about the power of stories and imagination. Peter flies into the Darling home to look for his shadow. He left it the last time he was there listening to their stories. Teenager Wendy doesn't recoil from the stranger who has come into her room through a window. Instead, she quizzes him and thinks that he's having the same adolescent stirrings of sexuality that she's experiencing.

But he's pre-adolescent. And his idea of a kiss is something like an acorn that you can give someone. The show teems with charm.

The nits in this "Peter Pan" are around acting choices. Even as Almeida delivers beautifully as Peter, with heartfelt and moving singing on "Neverland" and "When I Went Home," his speaking voice is an initial stumbling block. He delivers with a York-meets-emo accent.

And the register of his cadence also is notable. Almeida is up against the Sandy Duncans of the world who have left their imprints on the role. But there's a reason that female voices are used for adolescent and pre-adolescent males, not just traditionally in Peter Pan, but also for, say, Bart Simpson.

Peter is supposed to be suspended in adolescence and, well, Almeida's voice already has changed, so when he speaks, he sounds closer to adulthood than to the flying boy whose home can be found at the "second star to the right and straight until morning."

Garcia's Captain Hook also seems to occasionally be in his own world, both in his appearance (kudos to Sarafina Bush for these vivid, place-evoking costumes) and his performance style. Standing out in his meticulous red get-up, Garcia interprets Hook as a dandy and a fop, and his comically entertaining turn suggests spaghetti westerns more than a pirate adventure.

It's still all very engaging. Kamara delivers a wonder-filled and wonderful Wendy, full of heart, curiosity and love of adventure. And Micah Turner Lee and Reed Epley are button-cute as Wendy's younger siblings. Kudos also to Raye Zaragoza for her fearless Tiger Lily.

Together, they make this "Peter Pan" a sweetly enchanting flight.

'Peter Pan'
When: 7:30 p.m. Tue.-Fri., 2 & 7:30 p.m. Sat., 1:30 Sun. Ends Dec. 31.
Where: Ordway Center, 345 Washington St., St. Paul.
Tickets: $46-$163.50. 651-224-4222 or