Neverland comes to Bierman Park for 'Peter Pan' show

Peter Pan and Tinker Bell will be flying into a waterfront park, and it will be cash, not fairy dust, that will be sprinkled on the Recreation and Park Department.

At a time when The City is facing a $522 million budget shortfall and departments are being asked to prepare for 30 percent cuts, Rec and Park will be bringing in money by inking a deal to bring a “Peter Pan” production to The City.

The London production company ThreeSixty Entertainment Ltd. will construct a giant tent early next year in Sue Bierman Park — also called Ferry Park — near The Embarcadero and Washington Street. The “Peter Pan” production, to be staged for 18 weeks starting in April, will feature actors on a stage in the center of the tent with more than 12 projectors creating a 360-degree set on 15,000 square feet of wall space.

It will also be a first-of-its-kind money-maker at the park formerly known as Ferry Park — which was recently renamed after former Supervisor Sue Bierman.

“There have been weekend events where tents were set up,” said Recreation and Park Commission President James Lazarus. “But there’s been no multimonth theatrical production like this.”

The U.S. debut of the show — which was originally done in Kensington Gardens in London last year and has been performed at the O2 there as well — will bring in money for Rec and Park though a permit fee as well as a portion of the ticket and concession sales.

The large-scale event will also be a first for the land, which has been at the center of a battle for years about how to use it. The green space near the federal building used to be in the shadow of the Embarcadero Freeway, which was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and later demolished. The land was eventually turned over to The City.

Lazarus said about 10 or 12 years ago the land was the topic of heated debate.

“There was a question whether it’d go to public works or get turned into development,” Lazarus said. “There was even talk about a butterfly museum.”

But the two-block area has since been eyed by commissioners as a potential place for bigger, recreational events, such as the staging of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan tale, which drew more than 150,000 people to its staging in Kensington Gardens last year.

In order to make sure transportation is available for the thousands expected to attend the production, the Rec and Park has written into the lease agreement that the company has to “use its best efforts encourage use of public transportation, ride-sharing, the use of shuttle buses or other pooled means of transportation.”

 

Peter Pan in the park

A staging of “Peter Pan” will be brought to a tent near the waterfront. The show is scheduled to begin April 27 and run for 10 weeks. Tickets go on sale Dec. 6 and will range from $30 to $85. The production will also raise money for the Recreation and Park Department.

Permit fees: The production company will pay $325,000 to the Recreation and Park Department for the initial 18-week term. If the production is extended, there will be an additional permit fee of $150,000.

Ticket revenue: Rec and Park will receive 3.5 percent of the first $7 million in gross ticket revenue for the 18-week period and 6 percent of ticket sales above $7 million. If the production is extended for eight weeks, the department will receive 7 percent of the ticket revenue.

Concessions: The department will receive 5 percent of the profits from food and beverage sales.

Source: Recreation and Park Department

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

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