×

Peter and the Starcatcher

A fanciful prequel to J. M. Barrie's beloved children's story about a little boy who wouldn't grow up.

With:
Fighting Prawn - Teddy Bergman
Black Stache - Christian Borle
Mrs. Bumbrake - Arnie Burton
Peter - Adam Chanler-Berat
Slank - Matt D'Amico
Smee - Kevin Del Aguila
Captain Scott - Brandon Dirden
Prentiss - Carson Elrod
Alf - Greg Hildreth
Molly - Celia Keenan-Bolger
Lord Aster - Karl Kenzler
Ted - David Rossmer

Disney Theatricals has been keeping a close watch on “Peter and the Starcatcher,” a fanciful prequel to J. M. Barrie’s beloved children’s story about a little boy who wouldn’t grow up. The Mouse House not only published the 2004 young adult novel in which Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson first told the tale, but they also commissioned the stage adaptation that was done in workshop at La Jolla Playhouse in 2009. Chances are Disney will hang in there for the not-inconsiderable amount of work that still needs to be done on this project — but should they?

Although you’d never know it from the talky text (by “Jersey Boys” scribe Rick Elice) and busy staging (the collaborative work of Roger Rees and Alex Timbers), this is a pretty basic adventure story.

It seems that Peter Pan (Adam Chanler-Berat of “Next to Normal”) and all the lost boys living on the island of Neverland were originally generic orphans (with generic names like “Boy”) who were shipped off from London into bondage on the remote island of Rundoon.

Through the machinations of the infamous Black Stache (played with terrific gusto by Christian Borle) and his bloodthirsty band of pirates, the orphans find themselves at sea with Lord Aster (the stalwart Karl Kenzler) and his 13-year-old daughter Molly (the sensational Celia Keenan-Bolger), the guardians (“Starcatchers”) of a substance (“Starstuff”) with magical properties that can be used for both good and evil.

Once past the scene-setting and initial exposition, the action spins off into multiple land and sea battles: pirates vs. sailors; sailors vs. native islanders; native islanders vs. pirates; Peter Pan vs. pirate captain; pirate captain vs. crocodile. Eventually, everyone gets tired of fighting, leaving it to Peter to fly off with the dubious treasure of eternal boyhood.

The basic story may be clear, but unlike the straightforward narrative voice of the source novel, the stage dialogue is encrusted with bad puns, corny jokes, strained literary allusions, borrowed song lyrics, and the odd biblical reference (Peter’s name is “like a rock”). And for what audience? Not for kids, who won’t get the references, and not for adults, who won’t be amused.

The staging, a hybrid of story theater and English pantomime, is supposed to be part of the fun, and the cast does seem to be familiar with the full-body techniques that made such a hit of “Nicholas Nickleby.”

But the costumes (by Paloma Young) aren’t specific or distinctive enough to visually sort out the pirates from the sailors from the unfriendly island natives. And while a lot of imagination has gone into Donyale Werle’s (“Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”) collapsible set pieces, on this tight stage it’s impossible to distinguish a pirate ship from a frigate or a raft.

But the oddest thing about the production must be the music. Although Wayne Barker hasn’t supplied the show with enough songs to make it a legit musical, the few numbers that he did contribute are enough to indicate that the show might be less awkward if it actually were the musical it wants to be.

Popular on Variety

Peter and the Starcatcher

New York Theater Workshop; 199 seats; $70 top

Production: A New York Theater Workshop presentation of a play in two acts by Rick Elice, based on a novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, with music by Wayne Barker. Directed by Roger Rees and Alex Timbers.

Creative: Sets, Donyale Werle; costumes, Paloma Young; lighting, Jeff Croiter; sound, Darron L. West; music direction, Marco Paguia; movement, Steven Hoggett; fight direction, Jacob Grigolia-Rosenbaum; dramaturg, Ken Cerniglia; production stage manager, Clifford Schwartz. Reviewed March 5, 2011. Opened March 9. Running time: 2 HOURS, 20 MIN.

Cast: Fighting Prawn - Teddy Bergman
Black Stache - Christian Borle
Mrs. Bumbrake - Arnie Burton
Peter - Adam Chanler-Berat
Slank - Matt D'Amico
Smee - Kevin Del Aguila
Captain Scott - Brandon Dirden
Prentiss - Carson Elrod
Alf - Greg Hildreth
Molly - Celia Keenan-Bolger
Lord Aster - Karl Kenzler
Ted - David RossmerMusicians: Marco Paguia and Deane Prouty.

More Legit

  • Broadway-Breakfast-Split

    Variety to Celebrate Second Business of Broadway Breakfast With Thomas Schumacher, Diane Paulus and Diablo Cody

    Variety has announced the lineup for its second annual Business of Broadway breakfast presented by City National Bank. Joining the breakfast on Oct. 7 is the president and producer of Disney Theatrical Productions Thomas Schumacher, who will take part in the event’s keynote conversation. In his position, Thomas oversees the company’s worldwide stage productions, which [...]

  • Sue Wagner John Johnson

    Tony-Winning Producers Sue Wagner and John Johnson Announce New Venture, Wagner Johnson Productions

    Sue Wagner and John Johnson, seven-time Tony award-winning producers, announced Wednesday that they have embarked on a new theatrical business venture, Wagner Johnson Productions. Under the name, they will produce and general manage a wide scope of theater productions. One of Wagner Johnson Productions’ current projects is a musical rendition of “Almost Famous,” which will [...]

  • Sam Rockwell and Laurence Fishburne

    Sam Rockwell, Laurence Fishburne Starring in Broadway Revival of 'American Buffalo'

    Laurence Fishburne and Sam Rockwell will star in an upcoming Broadway revival of David Mamet’s “American Buffalo.” The show marks Rockwell’s first appearance on the Great White Way since his 2014 performance in the revival of Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love.” The five-year absence saw him pick up an Oscar for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, [...]

  • Secret Derren Brown review

    Broadway Review: 'Derren Brown: Secret'

    Audiences love to be fooled, whether it’s with clever plotting with a twist, the arrival of an unexpected character or even a charming flimflam man with a British accent. The latter is Derren Brown, and he’s entertaining audiences for a limited run at the Cort Theatre, where he is playing head-scratching mind games and other [...]

  • Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica ParkerNew York

    Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker to Reunite on Broadway for 'Plaza Suite'

    Real-life couple Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker are hitting the Broadway stage again for a reboot of the late Neil Simon’s 1968 play “Plaza Suite.” The staging will mark the Broadway directorial debut of Tony award-winner John Benjamin Hickey. Set in New York City’s Plaza Hotel in Suite 719, “Plaza Suite” is comprised of [...]

  • Derren Brown

    Listen: Derren Brown Spills His Broadway 'Secret'

    Derren Brown has spent a lot of his career performing magic shows on theater stages — but he’ll be the first to tell you that magic usually doesn’t make for great theater. Listen to this week’s podcast below: “If you’re a magician of any sort, you can make stuff happen with a click of your [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content