BROOKSVILLE — Live Oak Theatre Company's first production of the 2016-17 season fuses a familiar story with an original twist — and that was Randi Olsen's goal.
As the theater's volunteer artistic director, Olsen chooses the shows for each season.
"I wanted to highlight classic stories that we all grew up with, stories that are family friendly and have some sort of lesson in them," Olsen said.
Many are in the public domain, which frees her to adapt them as she pleases.
"One of them is Peter Pan," she said.
So this weekend and next, a cast of about 50 local actors will perform an original version of the classic story.
When Olsen first considered writing an adaptation of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan, she thought about the actors who usually perform in Live Oak's plays. And she had a realization.
"(Peter Pan) was a good fit for our company," said Olsen. "We've got Wendy, we've got Tinker Bell, we've got Tiger Lily, we've got all these Lost Boys."
With the children who are part of Live Oak in mind, she co-wrote a new version of the show with Kyle Marra, a fellow Live Oak volunteer.
"We tried to follow very closely to the heart of Barrie's original production, and the book we all know and love," Olsen said. But "we expounded on a few characters."
There is an entire chorus of mermaids, and Olsen said they are the show's "mean girls." And there are songs designed to highlight each of the characters.
"Tiger Lily has a song about being brave," Olsen said. "The Lost Boys have a song about living in the forest and following Peter Pan, because he's their fearless leader."
Olsen wrote all of the show's songs, and volunteer Jessica Giarratana composed them. The show has two acts, and — as Olsen always hopes — it has a life lesson.
In the show, the character of Mr. Darling is "a typical good guy, stuck in an office all day, (in a) mundane pattern of surviving and paying bills," Olsen said. "Which we all have to do. But at the same time, we shouldn't abandon our dreams."
That lesson is important to Olsen, 41, because she has learned it herself.
She studied vocal performance and music education at the University of Tampa and pursued her dream when she graduated.
"I was born to do music and theater," she said.
But after she pursued that for a while, she wound up working as an office manager. She learned a lot and liked the job, but still longed to use what she learned in college.
She started volunteering at Live Oak.
The theater's adaptation of Peter Pan will remind the people in the audience that they can pursue their dreams, too.
"I don't think we're put on this planet for a life of drudgery," Olsen said. That's "the lesson of Peter Pan — to hold onto your dreams and to make time for them."