"Peter and the Starcatcher" catches more than starstuff with its mosaic style and resourceful staging. Directors Roger Rees and Alex Timbers and writer Rick Elice manage to use ladders, flashlights and other pulled-together, everyday items to soar the magic to heights stronger and more believable than ever. Clap if you believe!

Ladies' fans double for mermaid fins. Ropes create tight ship quarters and torrential storm waves. The scenic design by Donyale Werle plays on ocean blues and island greens with beautiful results. Actors switch between multiple character personas and narrate the action. And did I mention that, in a way, it's a musical and live sound effects? Some may not know what to make of the Peter Pan prequel based on its namesake's young adult series. For those with a good sense of humor, though, the crazy antics, slapstick wit and classic characters are refreshingly new and all-the-while old-fashioned in method.

A beautiful proscenium as eclectic as the show itself gives the play a vaudeville setting that fits well in smaller, more intimate theatres like that of Folsom's Harris Center. The production received criticism for its loss of charm in its transfer from off-Broadway to Broadway, and its national tour likely offers a different experience for San Francisco theater-goers than it offers for Sacramento theater-goers. In fact, due to the improvisational nature of the script, likely no two performances are the same.

John Sanders leads the cast in this respect as pirate Black Stache, running toward and sliding across trunks, then reacting with hilarious results after he slams a trunk on his hand and feeds it to a crocodile. Stache, whose fashion likely played a role in the current mustache pop culture trend, stumbles over his words, orders sidekick Smee (Luke Smith) about, and plays with toy boats. He ultimately finds his arch nemesis in a young orphan boy without a name. That boy, played with growing confidence and smarts by Joey deBettencourt, joins young Molly Aster (the spunky Megan Stern) on a mission to protect the magical starstuff for the queen (God save her). When their ship wrecks, t he starstuff dissolves in to the ocean, making room for new surprises and the orphan boy's destiny: Peter Pan.

Other casting highlights include Carl Howell and Edward Tournier as Peter's young companions, one with a love of food and one eager to lead. Benjamin Schrader plays Molly's nanny, Mrs. Bumbrake. Harter Clingman, Jimonn Cole, Nathan Hosner, Ian Michael Stuart and Lee Zarrett fill out the rest of the cast as pirates, islanders, creaking ship doors and more.

As exhausted as the audience may be from laughing so much throughout the play, the cast must have an even higher, incredible amount of energy. The script and staging stay active and constantly change, with narration heavy in the first act and more music in the second act. All the rag-tag elements blend together for the perfect experience. "Peter and the Starcatcher celebrates everything that makes theatre great.


Wednesday only at Harris Center

Follow Harmony Wheeler's theatre adventures on Instagram and Twitter @HarmonyWheeler.

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From This Author Harmony Wheeler

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