BWW Interviews: PETER & THE STARCATCHER's Jimonn Cole Says to Expect Innovative Storytelling
Jimonn Cole was not used to doing musicals when he auditioned for PETER AND THE STARCATCHER in New York City. Yet, he found a way to stand out and get cast as Bill Slank, the villain in the five-time Tony Award-winning musical. Among strong showtune-singing auditioners, Cole sang a song he knew in elementary school, "I'm getting nuthin' for Christmas," but with an British accent.
Lucky for Cole, this is more of a play with music. He says not to come to the Orpheum Theatre expecting "Showboat-type spectacle musical," but a simple, visually stunning show where actors form furniture and walls among other things. One scene that stands out is when they use only a few minor props to form a boxing ring that appears "magically."
Cole says this is no simple feat and that this show is one of the most physically demanding of his career. Maintaining his physical stamina for the show through diet, exercise and rest, he said this production demands actors to train as athletes. They tell the story with their bodies.
Written by Tony Award-nominee Rick Elice and directed by Tony Award-winner Roger Rees and Tony Award-nominee Alex Timbers, the show is a grown up's prequel to PETER PAN. The innovative and imaginative musical play is based on the best-selling novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.
Cole is among a company of a dozen actors who play more than a hundred unforgettable characters, all on a journey to answer the century-old question: How did Peter Pan become The Boy Who Never Grew Up? This epic origin story of popular culture's most enduring and beloved character proves that your imagination is the most captivating place in the world.
Cole said the play is really all about "star stuff." This valuable substance that people try to get their hands on is powerful and helps people become what they want to be; that the stuggle to get and keep it is central to the show. If you're good, you'll be even better. If you have dark intentions, it'll propel you further that direction.
His character, Slank, as captain of the Neverland, is on the latter side of the equation. But Cole gets to play a number of other characters, too.
The show is about relationships and what happens in life. By the end, the audience is taken aback that all of what they've seen has been done by only 12 actors. "There are just not a lot of plays done like this," said Cole.
The show is ideal for adults, whether or not they know PETER PAN. Kids ages eight to 10 are recommended for the production at the low end due to sophisticated language. Come expecting a very innovative evening of storytelling that adults will appreciate due to the language and the wordplay but also kids will enjoy due to the visuals and the theatricality.
The Twin Cities premiere is a limited engagement March 11-16, 2014, at the Orpheum Theatre (910 Hennepin Ave.) in Minneapolis.
Photo by Jenny Anderson.