Cranbourne performer takes flight on stage

Inuki dons a top hat to play John Darling.

By Danielle Kutchel

A budding Cranbourne North actor is stepping onto the stage in a post-Covid production of Peter Pan that’s sure to delight families in the last week of the school holidays.

Eleven-year-old Inuki Mannapperuma is donning a top hat to play the role of John Darling, one of the three Darling children who go on a magical adventure with the youthful Peter, in Victorian Youth Theatre’s production of Peter Pan in Neverland.

Inuki said she originally auditioned for a different character but was excited to get the role of the “curious” and “adventurous” John.

After a year in which theatre productions were drastically restricted by Covid, she said she had made up her mind to go for any opportunities that presented themselves, just to get an opportunity to practise the art.

“Drama is a big part of me,” she said.

“I like how you can just go into another world and let all your feelings out. As a character it’s a good way to let everything flow in you, and your imagination comes within the character.”

It’s not the only talent Inuki has – she’s also a passionate cook and has co-authored a book with other children called My Word, My Imagination.

Inuki said she was a bit nervous ahead of opening night of the performance, but was “pretty sure” the production’s run would go well thanks to an intensive two weeks of rehearsals.

“All the other cast members are really nice and amazing. For me watching bits and pieces of scenes, they’re really good and I feel very excited,” she said.

Director Robert Coates said it was great for the cast to be able to connect in person after a year of Zoom classes.

“It’s wonderful after a very difficult year to be out there … producing some of the first theatre that’s being shown to an audience in 2021.

“It’s lovely to be back in a room with human beings and doing a magical story, bringing it to life – albeit with a few more masks and a bit more social distancing!”

Peter Pan in Neverland is being performed at Fairfield Amphitheatre until Saturday 23 January. For tickets or more information, call 8199 8344 or visit

All performances will be conducted in the open air and in accordance with Covid-safe regulations.