BWW Review: PETER AND THE STARCATCHER at 2nd Star Productions Takes Flight
For anyone who has ever loved the character of Peter Pan, reading PETER AND THE STARCATCHER is probably quite a fun experience. For someone like me, who has never been particularly fond of this character, reading PETER AND THE STARCATCHER was difficult. I sort of got where they were going, but I definitely didn't get all in the ins and outs of the story. It's sort of like reading HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS, before reading HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE. You get the idea, but you're just a bit lost in the magic of it all.
You see, PETER AND THE STARCATCHER is a much different imagining of the classic story of Peter Pan and his lost boys. In this case, Peter is an orphan who gets sent by boat - the Wonderland - to be the slave of a powerful king. Along the course of his journey he meets Molly - Wendy's mother - who introduces him to "starstuff." At some point, the children anger the fearsome pirate the Black Stache - Captain Hook - and are forced to fight him and his merry band of pirates. All of this makes sense, until you factor in actors playing different characters and items (doors, boats, mermaids, etc.) throughout and intricate wordplay that definitely isn't easy to follow when reading quietly to yourself.
After a fair bit of confusion, I decided a live production would help clear things up. Luckily, the Bowie Playhouse in Crofton Maryland was staging it, and I managed to snag some tickets. And what was the result? Well, I'm still awfully confused. But, the production itself was wonderful for such a small theater. You don't often see that level of production value come from a theater with about 150 seats in it. The show was produced by 2nd Star Productions; a small theater group that's been around Bowie since 1996.
The founders of 2nd Star Productions have a mission to "make their own rules for the sandbox" and to create an atmosphere that allows people to play, grow and have fun. Based on what I saw on their stage, I'd say they definitely succeeded in that mission. The actors - all of which were perfectly suited for their roles - were very talented. Molly and Peter share most of the heavy lifting, and both young actors - Kelsey Meiklejohn and Michael Bannigan - carried the show beautifully. They had perfect chemistry and great heart. The text itself is quite sarcastic, and both actors were wonderful at conveying that. The role of the Black Stache is another that is very important to the telling of this particular story. He's most definitely meant to be the comic relief and has many of the show's best lines. You could definitely tell Steven Kirkpatrick, the actor portraying the pirate, was relishing every one of his ridiculous jokes. It's always nice to see actors having that much fun on stage. It makes the audience's experience much richer. If those that are performing it are having that much fun, you really can't help but join in on the action.
Now then, if the actors were so talented and the production was so well done, then why was I left so confused? Well, I think it has everything to do with the material. The play itself is the problem. I have a very hard time following a story that's so increasingly odd. At one point, the entire production stops, and every character is dressed as a mermaid - and then they sing as mermaids for a good 5 minutes. I'm still not sure what the point to that was. And that is by no means 2nd Stars' fault. I remember being just as confused by it when I was reading it.
Apparently, though based on the applause of the audience I was most definitely in the minority. Every one else spent the evening laughing and left the theater smiling, which I'm very happy to see. Because even if I found the story all sorts of odd, the actors and the crew definitely deserved the recognition they were receiving. I seemed to be the only person there that was left scratching her head but then, maybe Peter Pan is just not my cup of tea.