Get The Hook!!

Posted by: wbtpress on Saturday, July 3, 2010 at 6:07:00 pm

I caught up with Jeff Schlotman who plays Captain Hook in Peter Pan...To see what makes him tick (ha!)


Where did I grow up? Is that a trick question? this is Peter Pan after all. I'm the oldest of 7 children. I Spent my first decade in wonderful Westfield, NJ,  but then with my father's increased business success, we moved to Larchmont, NY. A little-known fact is that in my youth my uncle trained me for competitive tennis and badminton. One year as a 15-year old I became the Westchester County Junior's Badminton Champion. Played Little League baseball and ran track and cross country in high school. When in high school I loved cross country track (even earned a letter! ) but grew restless with indoor track and field. Auditions were being held for the school musical Bye Bye Birdie. Got my courage up and auditioned. To my great delight, I got a part! The fact that I was in an all-boys Catholic high school and there were girls in the show from the nearby sister school had nothing to do with it.

Mentors were all the stars of the Broadway Theater at the time especially, Robert Preston, Rex Harrison, Richard Burton and for his wonderful comic timing and dancing, Dick VanDyke (Albert in Bye Bye Birdie) I could never get enough of Laurence Olivier in Wuthering Heights. His brooding dark tragic Heathcliff seemed, for me, to be the quintessence of power that could hold an audience spellbound. On the other side of the coin, Fred Astaire was a marvel and I would watch his films over and over when network TV would play them endlessly. He taught me how to seamlessly introduce a song and dance into any situation.

Captain Hook! Here's what I love most about this character: He is a metaphor. He is the mirror image of Peter Pan in that he is the representative of everything that Peter does not want to be. Peter can't help seeing himself in that mirror. Peter hates what he sees. Hook is a grown up! He has lost his dreams and imagination. He cannot fly! He is mired in the muck that comes from forgetting what it is like to be a boy. The crocodile who swallowed a clock represents time always chasing him and instead of enjoying each moment spends his time living in fear always running from his eventual demise. It is no accident that Mr. Darling and Hook are always played by the same actor...Mr. Darling IS Hook in his world. Mr. Darling, though, LEARNS the error of his ways with the loss of his children as they choose to leave and fly to Neverland. He becomes most magnanimous upon their return by adopting ALL of the lost boys. Peter hates everything about Hook. Hook symbolizes aging...and in Peter's mind all the bad things that come with growing up: pain, regret, evil, emotional loss and most especially, death. Peter and Hook duel ending with Hook's demise..which can be the only outcome in Neverland. It is good if all the boys in the audience boos Hook...for they too, no matter how old they are, hate everything in their own lives that remind them of the swiniest swine in the world. It is interesting though that in the end everyone, except Peter, chooses to grow up. Their need to experience the world regardless of its dangers win out. One cannot escape the idea that Peter, in his quest to be eternally a youth, eventually leaves him all alone in Neverland (a fun place to visit but wouldn't want to live there). We see that there is not much difference between Hook and Peter as it is Peter who has his own crocodile but at what cost does he successfully elude the ticking of the clock.

Nobody can deny the incredible liberating experience when Michael, with his teddy bear, finally finds his wonderful thoughts and UP HE GOES! Watch the faces in the audience when this moment occurs. Old and young alike can't help but feel for one brief moment that they too are Michael.

I have been extremely fortunate to have played over and over my three dream musical roles. Harold Hill in The Music Man, Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, and Fagin in Oliver. Aside from the tour-de-force nature of these roles, they are special because they represent a rather erudite curmudgeon that is shaken to his very foundation once he is presented with the challenge that the unexpected can bring...whether it be a woman, love, or any major change that has him re-evaluating everything that came before. The disarming of and the vulnerability of these characters is the most wonderful thing any actor can play. For straight shows, my two personal favorites were Salieri in Amadeus and the Narrator/stage manager in Our Town.

My off-stage time, though rare, has me dreaming of making my first trip to Italy! I have my wonderful home on Candlewood Lake in CT but yearn for a long European vacation. First, I think, I need to find a course on how to say, NO! Almost every month a new theatrical adventure and opportunity rear its head.

On my iPod you'll find Showtunes and music that I grew up with. Somewhere around the late 80's contemporary music and I diverged in the woods.


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