The cast of PETER AND THE STARCATCHER. Photo courtesy of O&M Co.
BOTTOM LINE: A completely delightful adventure for all ages, but adults in particular.
It is unfortunate that it has taken Theasy so long to get a review of Peter and the Starcatcher up on the site, but if you have yet to see the show, hopefully this tardy review serves as a helpful reminder to get tickets. Full of imaginative glee, Peter is a joy to experience, and its rowdy band of characters are well worth your time. The show opened this past spring, and was nominated for several Tony Awards in June.
Sort of a precursor to Peter Pan, Peter and the Starcatcher tells the story of Peter's journey to become the eponymous character we know and love. The story is based on a novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson and translates well to the stage. The epitome of theatrical magic, Peter and the Starcatcher offers an incredibly inventive manipulation of live storytelling techniques. A talented ensemble play the many characters -- pirates and orphans alike -- while also physically embodying the story, lining up to form a wall with a secret opening, or becoming the ocean's violent waves below the ships. This creative storytelling rejects the mechanical tricks of the theatre in exchange for physical staging, smartly devised by directors Roger Rees and Alex Timbers with musical staging by Stephen Hoggett. Donyale Werle (sets), Paloma Young (costumes), Jeff Crioter (lights) and Darron L. West (sound) support this clever vision and the complete package perfectly activates the audience's own imaginations.
Peter and the Starcatcher succeeds as the sum of its parts. The cast works together as an ensemble facilitating the presentation of the story and the design elements all contribute to the journey that we actively experience Peter embark upon. Though based on a children's story and suitable for children over 10, Peter and the Starcatcher is not a show to doze to and then expect to be able to follow. The script is quick, the wit flies at you, and the pace rarely slows. Be prepared to pay attention from the minute the house lights go down, and you'll be comfortable on the ride. If you're slow to attend, you'll spend a lot of time playing catch up.
There are a few musical numbers in Peter, though it is more play than musical. For me, these moments spoke to the show's theatricality more than to plot development. And like much of the rest of the experience, if you actively engage with with what occurs on the stage, you will be consistently delighted by the surprises that come your way.
Much of the original cast is still in the show, including Adam Chanler-Berat as the boy who becomes Peter, and Celia Keenan-Boger as the heiress Molly who gets caught up in the action. Arnie Burton plays Molly's nanny, and his quick comedic embodiment is the stuff of legends.
Peter and the Starcatcher is a "wild ride" kind of show, and trusting the journey will lead you to magical places. Heavily theatrical without losing intellectual credibility, this show is best suited for audiences who are eager to use their imaginations and actively engage with the experience. The escape to Neverland will be well worth your time.
(Peter and the Starcatcher plays at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 256 West 47th Street. Performances are Mondays at 7PM; Tuesdays at 7PM; Wednesdays at 2PM and 7PM; Thursdays at 7PM; Fridays at 8PM; and Saturdays at 2PM nad 8PM. Tickets are $59-$130. To purchase tickets visit ticketmaster.com or call 877.250.2929. For more show info visit peterandthestarcatcher.com.)