Astronauts in training? Special effects wizardry? A bit of both, perhaps? Judging from the excited.giggles. and constant chatter, magic is happening in Fullerton College's Campus Theatre, thanks to "Flying by Foy," a company that makes the dream of flying a reality.
What production· of "Peter Pan" would be complete without the flight of the world's favorite boy who won't grow up? FC's Theatre Arts staff,· headed by Gary Krinke, acknowledged the importance of flying, and hired the world renowned "Flying by Foy." Its founder, Peter Foy, arrived from London in 1950 to fly Jean Arthur in the Broadway production of "Peter Pan." In 1954, he was imported to the United States once again, to create the flying sequences for Mary Martin in the musical version of "Peter Pan."
Since then Foy has been responsible for the flying in over one thousand productions of "Peter Pan" in addition to flying television stars like Dinah Shore, Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Johnny Carson and Sally Field as "The Flying Nun."
In films he created the swimming and flying effects for Stephen Boyd and Raquel Welch in the Oscar winning "Fantastic Voyage" and worked on the films "Funny Girl," "Hair" and "The Wiz."
Foy was also responsible for space walk simulations in the early space explorations before television cameras were taken into space. He has worked with Sandy Duncan as· Peter Pan in 1975 and with Sandy and Danny Kaye in "Pinocchio."
For this project, Foy sent a crew of three to FC. These three manipulate the pulleys and closely monitor all of the flyers movements.
The art of flying is a safe, but somewhat complex process. The Darling children and Peter Pan wear a tight-fitting harness, similar to that of a parachutist. The leather- harness contains a belt, suspenders and a latch behind for the wire to be attached. Once in gear, the technicians pull on the offstage pulleys, allowing the children to travel vertically, and for Peter Pan to travel horizontally as well. Once extended in midair, the actors can push off and give the illusion of actually flying.
Tony, the crew leader, informs the flyers on the importance of following directions "The main thing is to relax and trust us; always arch your back. You should always try to walk: DON'T JUMP! When you land, continue walking."
Tracy Halbmaier, who plays Wendy, admits that flying held a bit more allure to the project. "I've always wanted to fly," she says. "It's this inexplicable, exciting feeling when you're in the air."
Was 8-year-old Adam Byrne excited to fly? He explains: "A million times over one! Boy, I've been waiting a long time for this day!"
Eighth grader · Robby Hull sums up his flying as "Pretty cool," but admits that "it's kind of scary when they swing you around, 'cause I was afraid I'd fly into the scenery.' "
Sandie Estrada and Bernadette Mendoza, double cast as .Peter _Pan, sums up the experience: "exhilarating! Fun! Kinda scary!"
Though flying appears effortless, the constraining harness produces some uncomfortable sensations.
"I will never bear children."
"Honey, it's not hurting between your legs? It's not squishing anything?"
The chatter and giggling continues, filling the empty auditorium with a sense of warmth and happiness. Peter Pan would have liked that, don't you think?