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BWW Reviews: PETER AND THE STARCATCHER at the Kennedy Center - You'll Need Your Imagination

Let me be honest. I was really looking forward to seeing PETER AND THE STARCATCHER. I have heard so many wonderful tales about it. The mistake I made is that I had not read anything about it and that was a mistake. So, I suggest you do your homework, read about it, know what to expect and I guarantee you will enjoy it more. As a matter of fact, I truly would like to see it again because a lot of it just went way over my head.

Imagine a combination of vaudeville, music hall (like THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DWOOD), and story theater.

I honestly should have realized that the play is based on a 2004 young adult novel by the humorous and yet absurdist comedy writer, Dave Barry who from 1983 to 2005 wrote a column for the Miami Herald that was syndicated nationwide and has appeared as a commentator on CBS' "Sunday Morning". I've always enjoyed his work but maybe I wasn't ready for this. It was also nice having him sit in the row in front of me.

Please bring your imagination. You will need it. And if you bring the kids, make sure they do as well. I was so impressed with how young the audience was. The Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theatre was filled with a much younger crowd than usual and yes, many tweens. One must understand there will be lots of props made of ropes with basically no elaborate sets. Let me repeat, this is no WICKED. What you will see scattered everywhere are ladders, ropes, some treasure chests, spray bottles, sticks, wires and model ships.

You may never see such a talented ensemble of twelve actors who portray more than 100 characters into a land of make believe. You will learn how Peter became Peter Pan, why you hear a constant "tick-tock" from a crockadile, how "Tinkerbell" played a part, and how a character to be named Captain Hook got his name.

Directors Roger Rees and Alex Timbers make great use of simple props (don't lose that imagination) like ropes to demonstrate small quarters on a ship or green umbrellas to show a rain-forest.

Act I may start just a little slowly but Act II starts with a bunch of cross-dressed mermaids wearing the most amazing costumes you've ever seen. If you thought the use of coconuts in the song "Honey Bun" from SOUTH PACIFIC was funny, wait until you see the use of condiments for the breasts of these mermaids.

You will hear much use of malapropisms. The amazing John Sanders takes over the role of "Black Stashe" from Christian Borle who won a Tony Award for ths part on Broadway. Sanders is just plain brilliant in a character that reminded me of a cross between Jerry Lewis and Groucho Marx (it's the thick moustache I guess). In Act II he has a situation where he exclaims over and over and over and over again "Oh, my god". Yes, it helps explain why there is a Captain Hook. He also quips "No man is an archipelago (meaning "island").

Special kudos to Joey deBettencourt as "Boy" (who becomes Peter), Megan Stern (as Molly...her daughter becomes "Wendy"), and Benjamin Schrader (as Mrs. Bumbrake) who you may recall as Elder White and Yoda in the original cast of THE BOOK OF MORMAN. I do wish the program had photos of the actors.

You will hear mentions of Philip Glass, Ayne Rand, singer Kelis, and even a mention of the Kennedy Center.

The play was nominated for five Tony Awards in 2012. Besides the Best Actor Award for Borle, the show swept the design awards for sets (Donyale Werle), costumes (Paloma Young), lighting (Jef Croiter), and sound (Daerron L. West).

The music (by Wayne Barker) comes from two platforms on both sides of the stage where Music Director and Keyboardist Andy Grobengieser and Percussionist Jeremy Lowe are perched.

Rick Ellis is responsible for the script which is for sale in the lobby. I saw many patrons purchasing it. The inventive movement is by Steven Hoggett.


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Charles Shubow Originally from Boston, Charles' first college show was "Barefoot in the Park," he played the role of the telephone repairman. Next came "How to Succeed..." in which he played in the ensemble and then Chairman of the Board. He appeared in "Fiddler on the Roof" at the White Marsh Dinner Theatre as Lazar Wolf. Charles' daughter Britt played one of Tevye's younger daughters. Britt later completed a five year stint in Broadway's "Mamma Mia!" as the Sophie understudy. Charles conducts theatre trips to Broadway shows as the "Shubow Shuttle."


 
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