Review of Peter and the Starcatcher
By Rick Elice
Based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Music by Wayne Barker
Directed by David L. Yen
Music Direction by Lucas Sherman
For tickets / schedule :
Spreckels Performing Arts Center
Rohnert Park, CA
Spreckels Theatre Company
RUN: November 25 – December 18, 2016
RATING: 3 of 5 stars
(November 27, 2016)
Peter and the Starcatcher is a zany, slapstick comedy that laughs at its own in jokes, using a mashup of characters loosely inspired by Peter Pan. Spreckels has added a sprinkle of holiday magic to the production, including an amusing introduction where the pirate captain receives coal as his Christmas present, while the rest of the cast unwraps bits and bobs of costumes to complete their attire. The ensuing action resembles a group of children playing Peter Pan, with random asides, interruptions, complicated plot twists, and plenty of piratical flair. Despite an older cast, the ensemble manages to capture the excitement of their younger characters, diving into the chaos with enthusiasm.
Set designers Eddy Hansen, Elizabeth Bazzano, and David L. Yen have created a jungle gym of crawl spaces and cabins, emphasizing the symbolism of flight; details are left to the imagination of the audience, filling in lush jungles and storm washed decks from crates and canvas. Pamela Enz’s costumes are sparse, keeping to the minimum required to recognize a character.
The swashbuckling pair of Larry Williams as the infamous Black Stache, and Chris Schloemp as his sidekick Smee return after their adventures in the recent Spreckels’ production Baskerville, lending their comedic genius to the notorious villains, when they aren’t busy prancing about in glittering tails for You Made a Mermaid out of Me. Ross Hagee’s Lord Aster is suitably pompous, raising an eyebrow at the mayhem surrounding him. Anderson Templeton’s Boy brings out the kindness and wistful dreamer in Peter, who is frustrated by the constant duplicity of adults. Denise Elia-Yen kindles her inner child with a youthful performance as Molly. The talented ensemble do what they can with the play, which suffers from a disconnected story and less than admirable writing. Yen, the director, has created an energetic staging—using the abilities of his cast to create a whimsical world that glosses over the failings of the play itself.
Whether or not you will enjoy Peter and the Starcatcher is largely a matter of taste. Characters speak rather oddly in third person, the plot leaves something to be desired, and the overall impression is that of vaguely organized revelry interspersed with rigid dialog. For a casual, frivolous evening of entertainment, Peter and the Starcatcher is a unique way to spend the holiday season with family and friends, but it has the substance of a light profiterole.