Category Archive for: ‘Judy Richter’

Overacting, silliness mar ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’

If silly is your cup of tea, you’ll probably enjoy “Peter and the Starcatcher.”

The TheatreWorks production is directed by artistic director Robert Kelley, who has assembled a stellar cast. However, they have to deal with excesses in the play by Rick Elice, who based it on a 2004 novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.

The creators have an interesting premise of presenting a prequel to the Peter Pan story, but some overacting detracts from that idea as well as from some of the show’s truly clever moments and humor.

Most of the story takes place in 1885 when two ships set sail from London to Rundoon. Each carries an identical chest. The one on the Wasp is to be closely guarded by Lord Aster (Darren Bridgett) on orders of QueenVictoria.

The other is to be safeguarded on the other ship, the Neverland, by his plucky 13-year-old daughter, Molly (Adrienne Walters), accompanied by her nanny, Mrs. Bumbrake (Ron Campbell).

Their fellow passengers include three mistreated orphan boys. One of them, played by Tim Homsley, is the lonely, friendless Boy. Through various adventures and misadventures, Boy and Molly form an alliance, along with the other two boys.

In the meantime, the Wasp has been taken over by pirates, led by Black Stache (Patrick Kelly Jones), assisted by his henchman, Smee (Suzanne Grodner). Black Stache, who’s prone to malapropims, is the show’s most outrageous character, in part because of the writing and in part because of Jones’s overacting and mugging.

A series of adventures and misadventures follows in the convoluted plot. In the end, Boy decides to call himself Peter Pan and remain a boy, while Molly goes on with her life as a Starcatcher, one of a select few appointed by the queen to collect magical starstuff as it falls to earth.

In addition, Black Stache vows that he and Peter will be enemies from then on. Hence the path to the Peter Pan story is laid.

The plot twists involve some clever staging by Kelley. All 12 actors in the versatile cast assume at least one additional role during the two-act play. Standouts include Bridgett as Lord Aster, Walters as Molly, and Homsley as Boy. Cyril Jamal Cooper and Jeremy Kahn are noteworthy as Boy’s fellow orphans.

Plot’s transitions are aided by Joe Ragey’s flexible set (lit by Pamila Z. Gray) and creative, sometimes zany costumes by B. Modern. Some scenes are enhanced by Wayne Barker’s music. William Liberatore serves as musical director and keyboardist, joined only by a percussionist in the orchestra pit.

On the other hand, the sound design by Brendan Aanes overamplifies the actors, several of whom tend to shout their lines.

The play’s weaknesses are most apparent in the first act, but the second act becomes more interesting as it goes along.

“Peter and the Starcatcher” will continue at the Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, through Jan. 3. For tickets and information, call (650) 463-1960 or visit www.theatreworks.org.

 

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