BWW Reviews: Delightful PETER AND THE STARCATCHER at the Peabody Opera House
Local author Ridley Pearson, along with Dave Barry, crafted an interesting "prequel" to the story of Peter Pan with their entertaining novel Peter and the Starcatcher. The stage production of this tale, written by Rick Elice, is a similarly imaginative effort that utilizes a relatively small cast, with just about everyone playing multiple roles, and a frenetic pace that captures the same qualities that distinguished the original work. An engaging touring production with a very talented cast played the Peabody Opera House this weekend (March 7-9, 2014), and it was well worth the trip.
Before he became Peter Pan he was just a boy (a fine Joey deBettencourt), sometimes referred to as "mule" by the cruel and ruthless employees of the orphanage. But, one day he and a couple of his fellow orphans, the ever-hungry Ted (Edward Tournier) and self-proclaimed leader Prentiss (Carl Howell) are shipped out to sea aboard the Neverland, a grimy little ship with a questionable reputation. They're under the command of the evil Slank (Jimonn Cole, in full villain mode) and his minions who happen to be carrying the stolen treasure of Queen Victoria.
An encounter with "starcatcher" Molly (a plucky Megan Stern), and the promise of food, have the boys following her as their new leader. It seems she's the daughter of Captain Scott (the stalwart and sturdy Ian Michael Stuart), a "starcatcher" as well, and he's been duped by Slank. While Scott races to catch the Neverland, a group of pirates led by the Black Stache (the hilarious John Sanders) get involved in the shenanigans. Weather wreaks havoc on the Neverland and the newly christened "Peter" is saved from drowning by Molly. They then find themselves stranded on Mollusk Island. Much mayhem and hilarity ensues before Peter realizes his dreams and becomes the figure we all know and love.
The rest of the cast is top notch as well with Harter Clingman (Alf), Nathan Hosner (Lord Aster), Benjamin Schrader (Mrs. Bumbrake), Luke Smith (Smee), and, of course, Lee Zarrett (Fighting Prawn), all providing exceptional support.
Directors Roger Rees and Alex Timbers are creative in their approach to the material, and they also keep the action moving along at a nice clip. Donyale Werle's scenic design puts the swash on the buckle, and Jeff Croiter's lighting also provides considerable atmosphere. Wayne Barker's music adds just the right touch to the proceedings, and Darron West contributes an effective sound design to complement it.