Maple Grove family wows neighborhood with backyard theater

- For the last 10 years, a Maple Grove, Minn. family has turned backyards into musical theaters.

This year's production of "Peter Pan" hopes to have audiences hooked.

"We're just about ready,"  said Lori Bunce of Bunce Backyard Productions. "We've had a couple of rain delays, so we could've used another night."

This backyard production is no bare bones affair.

It has its own orchestra, a professional light and sound system, as well as special wires that help the cast soar with the material.

"That's what's fun," said Bunce. "People come and they are surprised. They think it's going to be this little curtain opens, there's some puppets. It's always a surprise and people love it."

The show is the brainchild of Lori and Greg Bunce, who started staging musicals with their kids for their friends and neighbors in their backyard in Maple Grove.

Since then, the productions have become so elaborate and the crowds so big, they had to move them to a friend's backyard in Dayton, Minn. a few years back.

"Every year at the end of the run, people are so inspired," said Bunce. "One year someone came up and said 'Man if you can do that in your backyard, I can do anything.' I get a little weepy just thinking about it."

In addition to a love of musical theater, attendance requires a healthy dose of bug spray.

But spending an evening in Neverland is the best way to bring out the kid in all of us.

"I hope they go away feeling as confident as Peter Pan's character is," said Hannah Kuduk, who portrays Peter Pan in the play. "I hope they have a little of that childhood wonder that Peter does. He never grows up."

The show is technically free, but the Bunces ask for donations.

Thursday was opening night, but there will be a handful of other performances.

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