BWW Review: PETER AND THE STARCATCHER at The Commonweal Theatre
- The Commonweal Theatre in tiny Lanesboro, Minnesota, often chooses plays that present significant space challenges for its intimate stage. But they usually pull it off in spades, and this production of PETER AND THE STARCATCHER is one such success.
A fresh take on the beloved Peter Pan tale, this 2012 play is based on a novel written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Yes, that Dave Barry. It's an imagined origin story for not only The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up, but for several other characters, too. As a spin on such a favorite and well known story, we're already primed to suspend belief and free our imaginations when we enter the small but very well designed theatre. We are transported to the decks of "The Wasp" and "The Neverland," an island, and a deep sea grotto by the clever set design (Justin Hooper), and great sound design (Stela Burdt and Kelsey Heathcote).
Poor Peter (or 'Boy' as he is known throughout most of the play) is an orphan with a couple of buddies. The nasty head of their orphanage has turned them over to an evil ship captain to be sold as laborers. The Boy has learned that 'grown-ups lie all the time' and he has big trust issues. He is drawn to Molly when they meet - she is our Starcatcher - and they are forced to join forces in any number of adventures to outwit the bad guys. She proves to the three young orphans that she can be their leader, and shows them that when you believe in others and begin to trust, good things can happen including friendship and love. At the end of the play we feel that the youth of the world truly can be our heroes.
Lizzy Andretta plays the feisty and earnest Molly with intelligence, wit, and charm. Peter is played by Josiah Laubenstein who makes the character's early broodiness sympathetic rather than annoying, and his gradual journey towards trust and love believable and touching. Philip Muehe and Matt Donahue are cuddle-worthy and funny as Peter's fellow orphans, Ted and Prentiss. A real standout is Ben Gorman as Black Stache - the early iteration of Captain Hook (we get to witness how). Gorman has most of the best lines and is charmingly sleazy with perfect comic timing. Rachel Kuhnie is also terrific as the evil Captain Slank. The rest of the cast all energetically work to pull together the various complications and resolutions. It's a fun story that everyone seems to have fun telling, and the production is ably and tightly directed by Artistic Director Hal Cropp. Other cast members include Jeremy Van Meter, Alicia Ehleringer, David Hennessey, Eric Lee, and Caroline Hawthorne. All perform the musical numbers with charm and an array of truly stellar singing voices.
Other credits: Music Director Stela Burdt, Stage Manager Lacey Szerlip, Assistant Stage Manager Jodi Rushing, Custume Designer Annie Cady, Lighting Designer Dietrich Poppen, Props Design Brandt Roverts, Jodi Rushing, and Thomas White, Movement Coach Adrienne Sweeney, with Music performed by Anthony J. Sofie.
A great family theatre choice - and just for those who are young at heart - PETER AND THE STARCATCHER plays through October 26th. For tickets and information, visit https://www.commonwealtheatre.org/