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BWW Review: PETER AND THE STARCATCHER Reveals How the Saga of Peter Pan Began

Before Peter had the last name Pan, he was a browbeaten 13-year old orphan shipped off with his two mates from Victorian England to a distant island ruled by the evil King Zarboff. The boys know nothing of the mysterious trunk in the captain's cabin, containing a precious, otherworldly cargo, given to a precocious young girl named Molly, a Starcatcher-in-training, who realizes that the trunk's precious cargo is starstuff, a celestial substance so powerful it must never fall into the wrong hands.

During the journey, the ship is taken over by pirates - led by the fearsome Black Stache (who will later be known as Captain Hook in The Adventures of Peter Pan) - a villain determined to claim the trunk and its treasure for his own, making the journey quickly become a thrilling adventure. From marauding pirates and jungle tyrants to unwilling comrades and unlikely heroes, PETER AND THE STARCATCHER playfully explores the depths of greed and despair... and the bonds of friendship, duty and love.

The entire production is choreographed to perfection at the Morgan Wixson Theatre in Santa Monica with large set pieces designed by Christopher Daroca being moved and manipulated by the cast to reflect various locations visited, both on and off the two ships. The movements make the show even more of an adventure, never knowing what additional props may be brought out to represent trees to hid behind, flowing material to represent mystical waters, or how one piece of rope will be used to represent a window, door, deck railing, ship's bow, or whatever other set piece is needed. It's a quite a feat of engineering that the cast was able to move things around so quickly without ever running into each other thanks to the skill of director/choreographer Lauren Blair.

And even as hard as they appeared to be working, the entire cast was joyously enjoying themselves throughout the show, starting with Peter (Christopher Tiernan) and his two other orphaned buddies, Prentiss (Jacob Nye) and Ted (Chandler David). Often filled with wonder at worlds they discover, the boys often argue over who is the boss until Molly (Annie Claire Hudson) and her Nana Mrs. Betty Bumbrake (hysterically played by Tristan Griffin) show up. It's not only apparent to Molly, but the boys as well that she is much smarter and certainly more powerful than they are when she is able to communicate with her father, Lord Aster (the regal Michael Heimos who also plays a few instruments for sound effects) aboard the other ship using a magical amulet filled with a bit of starstuff. It's easy for the boys to understand why Black Stache (the magnificently over-the-top Aric Martin) is after the trunk filled with it.

The rest of the men make up the other sailors and pirates, starting with Musical Director Daniel Koh who plays Captain Scott of the Wasp and Slank (Spencer Johnson) who captains the Neverland with all the bravado needed to keep the men at his side. Jordan Segal and Ian Scott Mitchell portray pirate sidekicks Smee and Alf to perfection, playing their scenes for laughs and a good dose of puns and modern slang such as BBFN when they exit the stage.

I especially enjoyed the love scenes between Alf and Mrs. Bumbrake which the two men played in all seriousness with a wink and a nod to the audience. Rounding out the cast is Johnathan Beran as Grempkin and Sanchez, who also plays Fighting Prawn along with Spencer Johnson as Hawking Clam during the major fight scene on Mollusk Island, the place where Peter discovers a river filled with starstuff in a magical grotto ruled by a mermaid. It is here that Peter learns of his magical powers, wishing for the ability to fly and never grow up.

Technical credits create the mystical and magical environments so necessary to carry off this type of fantasy tale, from the lighting design by Jonathan Daroca, prop design by Tracey Saltzman, to the costumes designed by Kristie Mattsson and Lauren Blair which allow for easy movement and much character appeal. Pianist Frank Basile provides background music, accompanied by various cast members on other handheld instruments as well as with their soaring harmonies.

PETER AND THE STARCATCHER with Book by Rick Elice and Music by Wayne Barker, Directed by LAUREN BLAIR with Music Directed by DANIEL KOH and Choreography by LAUREN BLAIR, is produced by Joe Anderson & JOEY MORETTI. Performances continue through October 9, 2016 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre, 2627 Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica, CA 90405. Reserved seat tickets start at $28 and can be purchased by visiting http://morgan-wixson.org/ or calling the box office at (310) 828-7519.

For a sneak peek at the merriment, visit https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=Hw4ngZC-StU

Photos by Joel D. Castro


The two ships face off


Black Stache and his pirates. From left: Michael Heimos, Ian Scott Mitchell, Aric Martin, Jordan William Segal, Jonathan Beran and Tristan Griffin


Battling the weather on the high seas. From left: Christopher Paul Tiernan II, Tristan Griffin, Jordan William Segal, Spencer Johnson, Jonathan Beran, Daniel Koh, Chandler David and Ian Scott Mitchell


From left: Spencer Johnson, Michael Heimos, Aric Martin, Jonathan Beran, Chandler David, Tristan Griffin, Daniel Koh, Jordan William Segal and Annie Claire Hudson


The boys under attack on Mollusk Island


Molly teaches Peter a lesson about starstuff. From left: Christopher Paul Tiernan II, Annie Claire Hudson and Jacob Nye


Mrs. Bumbrake (Tristan Griffin) attempts to resist Alf's (Ian Scott Mitchell) advances.


Molly tells the boys a story which puts them all to sleep.


Molly Aster (Annie Claire Hudson) and her "Nana" Mrs. Bumbrake (Tristan Griffin)


Alf (Ian Scott Mitchell) introduces the Neverland ship


Smee (Jordan Segal) entertains


Peter (Chris Tiernan) visits a magical grotto. Bubble Man is Aric Martin.


Ted (Chandler David) and Prentiss (Jacob Nye)



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