“Peter and the Starcatcher”, Baldwin Theater, Royal Oak MI
Reviewed by Suzanne Angeo (member, American Theatre Critics Association)
and Greg Angeo (Member Emeritus, San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle)
Photos courtesy of Stagecrafters
“Starcatcher” is Short on Sparkle
“Peter and the Starcatcher”, Rick Elice’s playful stage concept based on Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s imaginative 2004 novel, tells us how Peter Pan became the boy who wouldn’t grow up. It aims to be a kind of prequel to the beloved literary classic “Peter Pan”, the 1904 play and 1911 novel by Scottish writer JM Barrie. “Starcatcher” garnered several Tony awards for its 2012 Broadway premiere, and both critical and audience acclaim.
Set in the late Victorian era, “Starcatcher” introduces us to a downtrodden and nameless orphan boy who is befriended by Molly, a perky and adventurous young girl with a magical secret. They are on board a slow-moving ship with a full crew, some bedraggled Lost Boys and a mysterious cargo, heading for a faraway jungle island and an uncertain fate. Meanwhile, Molly’s father, on a mission from Queen Victoria, is aboard the fastest ship in the British Navy and bound for the same island. Shipmates include the comically villainous captain Black Stache and his goofy sidekick, a seaman named Smee. Pirates chasing a queen’s treasure, lessons on enduring hardships and forging friendships, honor and trust, and just a touch of magic: Adventure awaits!
Some theatre companies present “Starcatcher” with very little in the way of elaborate sets and props. The success of this type of presentation depends largely on the imaginations and abilities of an experienced, professional cast and director. Stagecrafters is a community theatre with access to wonderful local talent, and there have been many amazing performances here. For their ambitious production of “Starcatcher”, the set (by director Dan Rose) is pretty bare-bones and includes a wooden rig, with platforms and stairs at each end, that divides and rotates from time to time depending on the scene. But some additional bits of sound and visual effects could help the cast and crew tell the story. Perhaps the sound of the sea and crashing waves, and some visuals to suggest the shape of a ship, or sails, or an anchor?
Strong performances by Tony Battle as Black Stache, Stephanie Peltier as Molly and Matthew Cochran as Smee enliven the proceedings. The lead role of Peter is capably played by Miles Bond, a young actor who still has to gain some professional technique. The rest of the cast could use a bit more energy and better-developed individual characters to create the bold textures needed to sustain interest in the rather complex story. Direction by Rose alternates between static and adequate. The overall effect is lukewarm, with a few fun stardust moments sprinkled in.
Stagecrafters’ production of “Starcatcher” would be a treat for children to see. They might be inspired to read the original “Peter Pan” or see the movie “Hook” for even more flights of fancy to Neverland.
When: Now through December 16, 2018
8:00 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays
2:00 p.m. Sundays
Tickets $21 to $27
Where: Baldwin Theatre, Main Stage
415 S. Lafayette
Royal Oak, MI 48067