At The Playhouse from Feb. 7 through Feb. 10.
If the sci-fi film “Inception” combined with “Peter Pan,” it’d loosely turn out a little something like the celebrated musical “Finding Neverland.”
But instead of experiencing a dream within a dream, audiences in “Finding Neverland” will witness a play that’s about a play.
In “Finding Neverland,”audiences will go behind the scenes and learn about the creation of the play “Peter Pan” from playwright J.M. Barrie’s perspective, while being introduced to favorites like Captain James Hook and Pan.
There are two versions of Hook in the show, with one being played by Dover native Conor McGiffin.
McGiffin, 26, and his cast mates have been doing a national run of “Finding Neverland” since October and will tour to The Playhouse on Rodney Square in Wilmington from Thursday, Feb. 7 through Sunday, Feb. 10.
The Dover native, a veteran actor who now calls New York his home, reminisced about getting his start in acting in the Capital City, making his childhood dream a reality and keeping Hook fresh.
To prepare for your role, were you eating a lot of Peter Pan peanut butter?
No, I did not. But I have been riding on a lot of Peter Pan bus lines recently [laughs].
Can you identify a night on this tour when you did improvisation and it went over really well?
At the end of the first act, I sort of play a nightmarish version of Captain Hook. We were trying to find a way to make him intimidating, but also funny. It was a balance I was having difficulty finding.
There’s a section of the script where he mimics the sound of a sword swooshing through the air. For the longest time I was doing it like [he was cutting through] wind. Yet it wasn’t really getting a response. But in the script, that moment is written as “swish, swish.” So one night I just decided to say, “swish, swish” and it got a very big response from the audience. Since then I’ve been doing that and playing up his hammy features.
Do you literally play Hook in dream sequences?
It is kind of a dream sequence, actually. J.M. Barrie is the only person who can see him. He’s born through a very stressful part of J.M. Barrie’s life. But he’s also much grottier than the Captain Hook you see later. He’s also the Captain Hook you see run his hook through one of his pirates. So he’s more of a threat than the play version that Captain Hook becomes. Yet he has to be this way in order for J.M. Barrie to finish writing his play.
What’s a quality you enjoy about the pirate?
I’ve never played anybody who views every single person that he interacts with as a meal. Everyone to him is someone to be used or someone to be disposed of. Playing someone like that who views everyone so lowly -- but also loves himself so fully to the point that he can’t help but laugh at his situation at every point -- is fun.
Your Hook sounds similar to the Joker.
Do you have a little bit of Heath Ledger in you?
I have a little bit him, and a little bit of Mark Hamill’s Joker from “Batman the Animated Series.”
Since you grew up watching superhero cartoons, what character would you love to play on the big screen?
I want to play a supervillain. Put me in as Loki or Lex Luthor, because they have the most fun of anyone in those movies. I think that’s because there has to be something behind their motivation. And they have to have a significant contrast to the hero, because we have to root for the hero.
But there also has to be a good reason why the bad guy is going up against the lead character. What happened in his past? What is he trying to do? What is the reason why he won’t stop at nothing in order to achieve this goal that (on the surface) no sane person would attempt? What has pushed this person to the point where they have to do this horrible act? I think that’s an incredibly interesting mind to explore.
What does it mean to you to perform at The Playhouse?
Growing up, I saw shows there all the time. I used to dance at a dance school in Dover and the teacher’s son was in a touring production of “Moving Out,” and we all went up there to see him perform as the lead in that show.
I saw “A Chorus Line” up there. Wilmington had become an art home for me. I’ve done classes at the Delaware Theatre Company. This will be the first show that I’ve been in, since I’ve graduated college, that’s touring to Delaware. To be there is like a homecoming and I couldn’t be more excited to perform in my home state.
Do you remember the first show you were in?
That was with the Children’s Theatre in Dover. It was “Babes in Toyland.” I was a toy solider. I remember being really scared, but also having a really fun time backstage and then on stage. It was like we were getting ready for this big project and it was something we had to do perfectly.
My director at the time, who’s since passed away, really instilled the idea of professionalism into a bunch of kids, in that we all had to do our lines and stand in our exact same spot every single time in order to make the audiences happy. That’s really the way he put it.
I remember at the end of that show that everyone was clapping. I felt a rush of energy and I was like, “oh my God, this is amazing. This is fantastic. I want to do this forever.”
I was 8 years old when I told my parents, “I want to do this for the rest of my life.” That’s where it all started. Not a year has gone by when I haven’t done at least one show.