Our story begins with a rapid-fire oral prologue about a boy and a girl and a journey over the high seas. The Boy, coincidentally named Boy (Joey DeBettencourt) because he has forgotten his own name, is an orphan, part of a trio of young boys including friends Prentice (Carl Howell) and Ted (Edward Tournier). Aside from the harsh life in an unforgiving orphanage, the tweens are sold into indentured servitude to a shade sea captain named Slank (Jimonn Cole) aboard the Neverland.
The girl, Molly (Megan Stern), only daughter of one of Queen Victoria’s finest sea captains, Lord Aster (Nathan Hosner). Like most motherless girls her age, Molly was raised by her father to be athletic, ambitious, intelligent and rambunctious, with an insatiable taste for adventure. Despite the chiding of her lady in waiting, Mrs. Bumbraker (Benjamin Schrader) She strides to be, like her father, a Starcatcher.
The journey would begins with two trunks. The Queen has charged Lord Astor with the safe transport of precious cargo the contents of one of the trunks. Using her fleets fastest ship, The Wasp, Astor is to deliver the goods to the island of Rundoon. A decoy ship, The Neverland, helmed by Slank, was also deployed, carrying another trunk merely filled with sand. The intrigue begins when we learn that to trunk Astor travels with is not filled with jewels, but rather magical starstuff, of which he has been charged to dispose of. The plot thickens when Slank switches the trunks in an effort to steal the Queens riches. Our plot is further complicated when the pirate Black Stache (John Sanders) overtakes Lord Astor’s ship, discovers he has ensnared the decoy and make haste to capture the Neverland, and steal back the stolen trunk full of riches that he was trying to steal in the first place.
Lord Astor had left Molly in the care of Mrs. Bumbraker aboard The Neverland. And it is there that she comes to meet the three orphaned lost boys. She introduces them to bedtime stories and of course gravitates to Boy, the most wounded soul of the three. Their bond is solidified when the pirates attack. Molly saves Boy from drowning and they come allies. When the seas of the conflict calm, the two ships are wrecked, Boy is drifting towards an island with the coveted trunk. Suddenly it is a race to see who among the survivors will get to the trunk first, and possess the treasure that lie within.
If you liked Wicked, Peter and the Starcatcher will be right up you alley. Starcatcher captures the childlike whimsy and sense of adventure without the darkness that punctuates some of the more adult themes, as Wicked does. It’s deft balance of fairy tale homage and timely pop culture references make for a fun, engaging and often times bawdy good show. Pter and the Starcatcher does not trouble itself with putting too fine a point on the themes of bravery and trying one's own self worth, but they are in there for the younger audeince members. Although the first act does feel a bit slow, on the whole the show is fast, fun and visually enhanting.
This production is a truly impressive collaboration of movement (Steven Hoggett) and set design (Donyale Werle). Clever use of flats and rope, and virtually every hand prop transported the story through every kind of terrain, bringing to life the jungle wild and tempestuous raging sea. The chameleon like transformations of the minimalist set is truly a feat to behold.
The collective of performances in this production are truly remarkable, rotating between character and chorus and set dressing with aplomb. Special congratulations to John Sanders broad and ridiculously brilliant rendering of Black Stache.
You will have a great time. Go see it!
Peter and the Starcatcher is running now through January 12, 2014 at:
Downtown Los Angeles
135 N Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012