Peter and the Starcatcher at Walnut Street Theatre uses imaginative storytelling to tell the story of an orphan who ends up becoming “The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up,” Peter Pan. The play, a prequel to Peter Pan, is based the book Peter and the Starcatchers, co-written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. In the play the cast portrays numerous characters to bring this tale to the Walnut Street Stage. Peter and the Starcatcher at the Walnut Street Theatre enchants audiences with this coming of age tale.
Peter and the Starcatcher is a prequel to J.M. Barrie’s treasured Peter Pan series. The play was adapted for the stage by Rick Elice. The play originally premiered at the La Jolla playhouse in California, and opened Off-Broadway in 2011 and transferred to Broadway in 2012. The story of the play follows a young orphan simply called “boy,” and how he becomes Peter Pan. This play has comrades and pirates and unlikely heroes who all are in search of the Queen’s treasure. There are a collection of characters in the play who range from earnest to deceitful. However, there is something charming and genuine about each of the characters that make this show a delight to watch.
Under the direction of Bill Van Horn, this show is an energetic play with music that gives each actor a chance to shine. One of the highlights of this production is Ian Merrill Peakes as Black Stache, and he is outstanding in this role. What Peakes does well is to utilize his animated performance and his gleeful snarls in order to change the atmosphere of what is occurring onstage. Peakes is brilliant in this role. Michaela Shuchman plays Molly Aster, a noble young girl who is an apprentice Starcatcher. Shuchman is exquisite as she portrays this strong willed and spunky character, and she provides a lively performance. As much as I thought Shuchman did extremely well giving her character strong leadership qualities, her scenes with Brandon O’Rourke who plays Boy/Peter are heartwarming and touching. O’Rourke and Shuchman form this endearing friendship as they battle the villain Black Stache. Also, O’Rourke brings an innocence and curiosity to his character. O’Rourke wonderfully illustrates how his character’s love for eternal youth comes from his distrust of adults who have lied and abandoned him his entire life. Peter has a line at the end of the play, “Grownups lie. They lie and they leave,” in which O’Rourke perfectly brings the right amount emotion that shows the scars Peter has endured that lead to his mistrust of adults. Peter’s two fellow orphans are Prentiss (Davy Raphaely) and Ted (Mattheew Mastronardi.) Both Raphaely and Mastronadi are comical and add a good deal of humor to the show. The entire cast give exceptional performances in Peter and the Starcatcher and they work together to create a world that is exciting and one in which anything is possible.
I also need to mention the artistic team for this show. Todd Edward Ivins created the set. The Lighting Designer is J. Dominic Chacon and the Sound Designer is Christopher Colucci. In addition, Mary Folino designed the costumes. Every part of this show works from the cast to the lighting to the props, and through these elements and the audience’s imagination the show imaginatively creates shipwrecks, chases and monsters.
Peter and the Starcatcher runs at the Walnut Street Theatre though May 1, 2016. For more information and tickets visit their website at www.walnutstreettheatre.org or call the box office at 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787.
Photo Credit: Mark Garvin
Final Thought: Peter and the Starcatcher at Walnut Street Theatre is imaginative and a joy to behold, with a cast that is bursting with energy. It is a show that is charming and humorous and provides for an entertaining evening.
Kelli Curtin is editor and writer for theatresensation.com. In addition, she is a contributor for the online site broadwayworld.com. Kelli is excited to share her passion about theatre and the Arts with her readers. Kelli can be found on Twitter, Facebook and on Instagram.