by Lorie Lewis Ham
Peter and the Starcatcher made its Fresno debut last weekend, presented by StageWorks Fresno at the Fresno Art Museum in the Bonner auditorium. I did not realize that it was based on a novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson–had I known that, I would have realized what a crazy and fun ride it would be!
This play, adapted by Rick Elice, provides a backstory for the character of Peter Pan. The story takes us on a journey with an orphan with no name, who later is given the name Peter. He, and two other orphan lost boys, are sold into slavery and traveling on the Neverland to an island called Rundoon. Also in the story is a young girl named Molly. Molly’s father, Lord Astor, is on a very important mission for the Queen that involves a mysterious trunk, which Lord Astor is to take to Rundoon aboard a ship called the Wasp. Lord Astor is a Starcatcher, and Molly an apprentice Starcatcher. Molly begs to go with her father and help, but ends up instead traveling aboard the Neverland planning to meet her father on the island. She is accompanied by her nanny Mrs. Bumbake. Molly and Peter of course meet and end up working together to save the treasure and themselves. The captain of the Neverland, Bill Slank, switches the trunk with the Queen’s treasure for a trunk with sand, which begins the adventure of this journey. Things become even more complicated when a notorious pirate named the Black Stache takes over the Wasp looking for the Queen’s treasure.
This may be one of the most hilarious and crazy shows I have ever seen! (Crazy in a good way). Everything is completely over the top. Many of the actors play more than one role, switching back and forth with minor costume changes. Terry Lewis plays the very flamboyant Black Stache perfectly–reminding me a bit of Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Christy Hathaway, as Stache’s right hand “man” Smee, plays her equally over the top role just as wonderfully, and the two play off each other as if they had been doing so for years. Another stand out in this show is Randall Kohlruss who plays the nanny Mrs. Bumbrake–he was absolutely hilarious! (Yes I said he–this character is designed to be played by a man). Greg Ruud plays Lord Astor and you can always count on him for a solid performance–I think this is the third show I have seen him in, in the last few months and he never disappoints! Kenzie Stafford was both sweet and strong as Molly. Rhys Avantis as Peter goes from a sad orphan boy who hates grownups, to a confident Peter Pan who learns how to be a hero. Other cast members include the other two Lost Boys played by Erik Olson and Daniel Longoria, Michael Peterson as the pirate Alf, Will Bishop as Slank, Damen Pardo as Captain Scott, and Steven Weatherbee in multiple rolls.
Everyone in this show did an absolutely fabulous job of pulling off this insanely over the top show–the comedic timing was spot on–it takes a lot of talent to do something this crazy and do it well! Though not a musical, there are a few songs in the show as well–which is extra fun as this is also a vocally talented cast! The Mermaid song will have you rolling in the aisles! There are also some sweet moments in the show.
Pay very close attention to every bit of the dialog as the show is filled with clever, current references along with references to the original story of Peter Pan.
Director Joel Abels deserves major kudos for putting this insanely funny show together perfectly down to the tiniest detail! And so does costumer Trina Short for the wonderful and creative costumes!
If you are looking for a show that is just plain fun–DO NOT MISS Peter and the Starcatcher, which is on stage through December 18 at 2233 N First St. in Fresno. I don’t think I have ever laughed so much at a show and right now we could all use a bit of laughter. Tickets can be purchased on the StageWorks Fresno website.
You can find more theatre articles, and other entertainment articles, in our Arts & Entertainment section.