BWW Reviews: PETER AND THE STARCATCHER Captures Excellence
PETER AND THE STARCATCHER is not only funny, interesting and poignant, it is a master class in inventive theatre direction and character development.
In the first act, with only rope and a couple of trunks, we are taken on a high seas adventure filled with ships, pirates, and an ocean full of laughs and music.
Also worth mentioning, for those of us who really enjoy and study theatre, is the lighting. It is used to full advantage by award winning designer Jacquelyn R. Cox. It not only is interesting to see the effects from "inside" the ship to out in the sun, but also the use of color so that we actually see details, such as the water over the edge of the ship, clearly. Light is also used by the actors through flashlights and small finger LED's, which are manipulated cleverly and masterfully.
What makes all of this even more interesting to me is the perfect use of such a small space for such a big show. With a dozen people on stage at one time, singing, moving, and even running, it could become overwhelming to those of us that are up front. But it just draws you into the story and never seems cluttered. Excellent direction by Michael Flowers and choreography by Mavis Scully keep the movement clean and manageable.
Jessica G. Smith as Molly Astor is the perfect blend of innocence and self-assuredness. You can see the determination in her eyes, the cockiness when she competes with the boys and yet the vulnerability of a 13 year old girl is always there, at times below the surface and at other times obvious in her wide eyed youth. Ms. Smith is a star.
Seth Burgess as Peter is another young cast member who shows us all how it is done. He internalizes his character and you can see the mix of emotions run through his entire being throughout. He seems to grow from scared, lonely boy to self-assured leader during the show.
Jonathan Fuller as The Black Stache is menacing as a pirate, but also totally hilarious. His over the top portrayal is tempered by his side kick Smee, played by Tom Wofford. Although funny in his own right, Smee seems more real and relatable than his larger than life counterpart. The two make a good team that keep the whole thing from getting too silly.
Barry Austin as Mrs. Bumbrake is hilarious, taking things right to the edge of overdone, but showing restraint and thoughtfulness in a mostly slapstick character. Caleb Clark as Alf is also funny, but I have to single him out for his great singing voice. Many times you can hear his strong tones adding depth to the few musical numbers in the show.
Although expecting more songs, I was satisfied with the amount of actual musical numbers and the use of background music. Instead of stopping every few minutes for a song as in most musicals, this show puts its big numbers in very strategic places as to enhance and not hinder, the telling of the story.
The second act takes you to a whole new land, Neverland, and continues the story in a way that felt quite different from the first act. But it keeps you entertained and intrigued throughout. With more props, more characters and more running around, it still manages to walk that fine line between too much and just right.
A show that everyone can enjoy, it contains jokes, music, and a fascinating story. Not only can young audience members enjoy it, but older theatre goers will enjoy the fresh take that ties to an old story. Newcomers to theatre might miss a few references, but it won't hinder their enjoyment, and theatre veterans will be impressed and delighted with what they see.
Make plans to see City Equity Theatre's production of PETER AND THE STARCATCHER, being presented at Birmingham Festival Theatre now through August 16. For specific times and ticket information call 205-500-2701 or go to www.cityequitytheatre.org