Actor won’t play it straight in ‘Peter Pan Goes Wrong’

[adrotate banner="54"]

By Darlene Donloe

Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES — Actor Ryan Vincent Anderson has no intentions of playing his role in “Peter Pan Goes Wrong” at the Ahmanson Theatre straight.

The play is a highly physical comedy packed with finely tuned and inspired slapstick, delivered with split-second timing and ambitious daring stunts.

The show mixes the J.M. Barrie classic with Mischief Theatre’s production from the team behind the Tony Award-winning hit, “The Play That Goes Wrong.”

The farcical comedy is co-written by Mischief Theatre members Henry Shields, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Lewis, who met at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. All three also have lead roles in the show.

“Peter Pan Goes Wrong,” directed by Adam Meggido, sees the fictional Cornley Drama Society back on stage battling technical hitches, flying mishaps and cast disputes as they attempt to present Barrie’s much-loved story.

In the play, Anderson, the only Black member of the 16-member British cast, and one of only two Americans in the show, plays Gil, an assistant stage manager. Anderson, who was also an understudy in the Broadway production, is replacing an actress who played the role of Jill in the Broadway production.

“This character is a helper that fills in the gaps and keeps the train running,” said Anderson, who played Trevor in more than 850 performances of the previous Mischief show, “The Play That Goes Wrong.” “It’s Peter Pan mixed with Cornley Drama Society. Everything is falling apart left and right. It’s an underdog show. You’re rooting for them to get to the end. 

“The magic in it is how people relate to people who keep trying and don’t give up. You just keep moving forward — that’s the key that brings it all together.”

Anderson took a detour on his way to his dream of becoming an actor. After a five-year architecture program at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, he realized his true passion was drama, so he took acting and singing classes for non-majors.

While at Carnegie Mellon, Anderson said there was a class he had to take once a semester that required him to “design for theater.”

“We had to read plays and then design and run a play,” said Anderson, who has made both Queens, New York, and Los Angeles his home. “I was building sets, making masks, pulling ropes, whatever needed to be done. I thought, ‘This is fun, but I want to be on stage wearing the masks I made.’”

After graduating from Carnegie Mellon, Anderson, whose credits include playing firefighter Billy on the 10th season premiere of “The Blacklist,” went to California Institute of the Arts where he began performing in student films and plays and doing voiceovers, anything to satisfy him artistically.

“I was always creative and artistic,” said Anderson who earned a master’s of fine arts degree in acting from CalArts. “I thought about architecture because I drew a lot. But, I always wanted to do something creative.

“I soon realized that architecture was rigorous and demanding. It wasn’t for me. I knew I wasn’t going to do it,” he added. 

“I don’t come from a family of performers. Three brothers and two parents. I didn’t even see a lot of theater growing up. I liked movies, television and storytelling. When I got to college, I was surrounded by an amazing drama program.

A budding playwright, Anderson says he loves being a part of storytelling.

“It’s all about connection,” he said. “It brings people together in one room. In theater, we are making an agreement together. We are going to show this to you and all of us will be present in the moment sharing things.”

Henry Lewis is one of three co-writers and the artistic director of Mischief Theatre.

“I love what I do,” he said. “Acting has become a passion of mine. I love to be in front of a live audience. Writing is satisfying in another way. I love sitting in a room and getting it done. It’s fun to deliver a script.”

Lewis said the idea for “Peter Pan Goes Wrong” came about 10 years ago.

An Olivier award-winning writer, actor and producer, Lewis said when he was 15, he worked with writer Michael Green, who had written the book “The Art of Coarse Acting.”

“It was a very funny book about his experiences in amateur theater,” said Lewis, whose writing and acting credits include, “A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong,” as well as the short film, “The Man in the Room” and TV series, “The Goes Wrong Show.”

“His style of comedy was really good,” said Lewis, whose work has been produced in more than 40 countries worldwide. “After I graduated, I mentioned it to Jonathan (Sayer) and Henry (Shields), and I said, ‘Let’s try to write a play that goes wrong.’ So, we did it at a small theater. It grew from there. It has now been 10 years. The show is popular because it’s a universal kind of humor that appeals to all ages.”

“It really is a funny show,” Anderson said. “I like being silly. It doesn’t matter that it’s a British comedy. Whether it’s American or British, comedy is comedy. This is great storytelling. There is magic in it.”

“Peter Pan Goes Wrong” made its premiere at the Pleasance Theatre in London in December 2013. The play also was adapted into a one-hour television special, which was broadcast on Dec. 31, 2016, on BBC One.

The play made its North American premiere in 2022 in Edmonton, Canada, and will launch a new UK tour later this year.

“Peter Pan Goes Wrong,” is being staged at the Ahmanson Theatre at The Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 1 and 6:30 p.m. For tickets, visit

Darlene Donloe is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at

[adrotate banner="53"]

Must Read

[adrotate banner="55"]