BWW Review: PETER AND THE STARCATCHER at North Texas Performing Arts Repertory
Have you ever wondered where Peter Pan became a lost boy, how Captain Hook lost his hand, or what made the alligator "tick"? Well, North Texas Performing Arts Repertory unraveled a creative tale that fleshes out the backstory of these characters, Neverland, and all the rest. The interpretation was as fantastical as it was imaginative, and the cast had some of the most explosive energy I've ever seen.
Boy/Peter (Kennedy Styron) and Molly (Avery Baker) had excellent stage chemistry as the two young people embarking on an unlikely adventure together. Baker's performance was earnest and plucky- she perfectly conveyed the spirit of an adventurous, self-assured young girl longing for adventure. Nevertheless, her normally headstrong demeanor gave way to authentic warmth as she took care of Boy and helped draw him out of his shell. Styron did well in mastering Boy's transition from a scared and solemn child, to one who is more confident and courageous. Her performance was full of pensive vulnerability, perfectly suiting the character.
The casting of Lindsay Lintelman as Black Stache was questionable at best. Though she succeeded in portraying Stache as a fool, the performance left something to be desired. Lintelman's dialogue was consistently rushed and delivered in a shrill, high-pitched squeal, making her quite difficult to understand. The energy was there, but the perpetual hysteria made the delivery miss the mark. I like to think that as much of a daft scoundrel as Black Stache is, the audience still has the potential to love this character, executed a different way.
If I were able to create a personally curated DFW "All-Star" cast, David Helms would be in it. His performance as Mrs. Bumbrack and Teacher undeniably stole the show. The timing, diction, and transitions from calm to spasmatic to flirtatious were all superb. Though much of the casting was done on a gender-blind basis, Helms seemed to embrace his gender-bent roles with abandon. Peter and the Starcatcher is worth seeing for Helms' hilarity alone.
Another of the more enjoyable performances came from John C. Hogwood as the stern and commanding Lord Aster. Hogwood's manner of speaking was so rich, his voice so crisp, that one's ears perked up any time he appeared onstage. Caleb Pieterse's performance as Smee was equally engaging. Diverging from the original Peter Pan story, the Smee in this show was clearly the brains behind Black Stache, helping the villain course-correct from any impending blunder. Pieterse's gentle corrections to Black Stache contrasted beautifully with sinister threats doled out to the orphans in other scenes. Altogether Pieterse created a delightfully fun-to-watch Smee.
Just when you thought this show couldn't be any sillier, Fighting Prawn (Duncan Michael) appeared on Mollusk Island. Wacky, unpredictable, and slightly terrifying- Michael's performance was spot-on. The way he peppered his dialogue with names of various pasta varieties as well as his delivery of threats with a smile allows me to safely say that you've probably never seen a character quite like this before.
The set was perfect for a nautical, pirate-filled show. Seashell-shaped lights illuminated the perimeter of the stage, draped netting gave the illusion of a Jacob's ladder, and occasional use of a fog machine added to the occasionally eerie atmosphere. Otherwise the set varied little throughout the show.
The fight choreography in this show was excellent. It was smooth yet fast-paced, altogether creating several very entertaining scenes. The costumes were generally simple, but appropriate for the characters, and Black Stache and Smee wore outfits similar to ones you'd see in the traditional performance of Peter Pan. However, Boy/Peter's look was phenomenal. The pink spiked hair, boots, denim vest and leather straps all contributed to a refreshingly punk aesthetic of Peter.
The show makes the audience laugh enough to where we can forgive the lack of a strong plot- or rather, the lack of clearly demonstrating the plot. Peter, the orphans, and Molly were introduced so quickly and in such rapid succession that it was challenging to keep up with each backstory, let alone with which boat a character was on at any given time. Nevertheless, the rapid pace of the show worked well for the comedic antics- serious moments never lasted long, and the timing of hijinks and gags was superb.
NTPA's Peter and the Starcatcher is pure, light, and fast-paced fun. It may not be perfect, but it's impossible to not enjoy yourself.
Peter and the Starcatcher runs though September 14 at the Willow Bend Center of the Arts in Plano, TX. Tickets can be purchased here.