Peter and the Starcatcher

Peter and the Starcatcher“We ask you now to imagine a grown cat in flight.”  This line—as a glowing scarf floated through the air while cast members created the sounds of a cat gurgling and cooing—was just one of many that had Friday night’s audience for Little Lake’s Peter and the Starcatcher howling with laughter.

Brilliantly opening Little Lake’s 69th season, Peter and the Starcatcher
provides a backstory to the century-old tale of how an unhappy orphan becomes Peter Pan- “The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up.”  The Tony-Award-winning show is a theatrical adaption of Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s best-selling novel, and the play was made for the stage by directors Roger Rees and Alex Timbers, written by Rick Elice, and includes music by Wayne Barker.

The show takes audiences on an adventure on the high seas and to the faraway Mollusk Island. It opens with the mix-up of two trunks— deliberately similar to each other in their…trunkness—each aboard one of two ships, the Wasp and the Never Land.  A young, nameless orphan and his mates, aboard the Never Land, are being shipped off from Victorian England to a distant island ruled by the evil King Zarboff. They know nothing of the mysterious trunk on board, but upon their meeting of a bright, young girl named Molly—a starcatcher in training—they learn that the trunk contains a precious, otherworldly cargo called starstuff—a celestial substance so powerful that it must never fall into the wrong hands.

op row: Andy Coleman, Bill Lyon, Carly DeCock, Art DeConciliis Middle row: Jeff Johnston, Eric Mathews, Tom Protulipac, Nick Staso Bottom row: John Herrmann
Top row: Andy Coleman, Bill Lyon, Carly DeCock, Art DeConciliis Middle row: Jeff Johnston, Eric Mathews, Tom Protulipac, Nick Staso Bottom row: John Herrmann

Meanwhile aboard the Wasp, Lord Aster—Molly’s father—is unaware of the mix-up and encounters the fearsome pirate Black Stache, his sidekick Smee, and a pirate crew as they learn that the wrong trunk is aboard the ship they have pirated.  The enchanting villain Black Stache is determined to claim the trunk and its treasure for his own, and they quickly change course to take over the Never Land and find the precious trunk filled with starstuff.

While on the Never Land, both the orphan boy—who is soon given the name Peter—and Molly become close as they take on the Wasp’s Slank and other various villains while trying to keep the starstuff out of the wrong hands. The Never Land eventually shipwrecks, Molly saves Peter from death, and together they fly to an unknown island.

The shipwreck leads them to a mysterious island—Mollusk Island—and Molly is kidnapped by Slank. Peter saves her from him, along with the help of Prentiss and Ted.  The story ends with Molly and Peter saying goodbye to each other, and with Peter promising to visit her in England. Molly and her father return to the real world, while Peter and the Lost Boys remain on Mollusk Island, which they rename Neverland, the name of the ship that was shipwrecked.

(clockwise from top) Nick Staso as Prentiss, Carly DeCock as Molly, James Curry as Peter and Max Andrae as Teddy
(clockwise from top) Nick Staso as Prentiss, Carly DeCock as Molly, James Curry as Peter and Max Andrae as Teddy

The show, featuring just a dozen actors who portray more than 100 unforgettable characters, is a thrilling adventure that keeps audiences on their toes from start to finish.  Little Lake’s production was directed and choreographed by Jena Oberg, and musical direction was provided by Holly Jones.

Overall, the show’s set was modest but made creative use of simple materials like ropes and wooden boards to simulate different settings including various parts of a ship, and blue aerial silks and ladders to simulate underwater scenes.

The cast was nothing short of stellar as they portrayed their larger than life characters.  Smee, played by Andy Coleman, stole the show as his expression, delivery and naturally humorous disposition had the audience in stiches from his very first line.  Black Stache, played by Bill Lyon, was also an audience favorite as he eccentrically delivered his cleverly written lines while incorporating today’s culture and entertaining sayings into the script—so much so, that it was at times hard for his castmates to stay in character and keep a straight face.  Another notable comedic performance was given by Slank, played by Tom Protulipac, who also embodied the pouty Hawking Clam on Mollusk Island.

James Curry, in his portrayal of Boy (Peter), delivered a strong dramatic performance with charming good looks and an expressive face.  There was an instant spark and connection when he locked eyes with Molly, played by Carly DeCock, for the first time.  It was this connection that had audiences in tears, amid their laughter, at the end of the show.  DeCock’s acting fit the character perfectly and was top notch for a young woman of her age, though—as this was a musical, even though there was a great deal more dialogue than music in the show—her singing voice was not quite as strong, and was often engulfed and lost amid the booming bass voices of the nearly all male cast.  A particularly stand-out vocal was provided by John Herrmann, who portrayed Aft with a cutting tenor instrument that could be heard loud and clear from any corner of the room.

(left to right) Andy Coleman as Smee and Bill Lyon as Black Stache
(left to right) Andy Coleman as Smee and Bill Lyon as Black Stache

Though the entire evening provided the audience with captivating entertainment, it is without a doubt that the audience’s favorite scene was the opening of act two, when—in vaudevillian song—nearly the entire cast portrayed a group of underwater mermaids that recall their experience of being transformed from regular fish after swimming in the wake of the starstuff.  The audience was so overcome with howling laughter that, at one point, it became difficult to hear the mermaids’ song!

The cast and crew received a standing ovation from a nearly sold-out house for their spectacular performances, and it was obvious that audiences enjoyed an imaginative evening filled with laughter and tears.  This captivating performance will be on the Little Lake stage on weekends through May 13- so don’t miss your chance to see this highly-recommended show!

Special thanks to Little Lake Theatre for complimentary press tickets. Peter and the Starcatcher runs through May 13, for tickets and more information click here. 

Photos courtesy of James Orr.