NYC Review: ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’

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This January, members of the Green Room Reviews staff traveled to New York City for a week-long immersion program as part of their studies in the Goldring Arts Journalism Master’s Program at Syracuse University. Throughout the trip, they attended a variety of Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. Here is one of the Green Room Reviewers’ thoughts on a show that caught their eye in the Big Apple.

NYC Review by Melanie Deziel 

Peter and the Starcatcher gives audiences insight into the pre-Neverland childhood of the boy who never grew up, but it’s the set and supporting characters that make the real magic.

Rick Elice wrote the play with modern humor throughout, basing it on the series of books by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson chronicling Peter Pan’s backstory. We meet the precocious young Molly (Betsy Hogg), a Starcatcher in training that enlists the help of an orphan simply known as “Boy” (Adam Chanler-Berat) to keep a trunk of magical starstuff from falling into the hands of pirates.

Hogg stepped into the role of the young, adventure-seeking starcatcher roughly two weeks ago, replacing Celia Keenan-Bolger. Hogg is a lovable Molly—the only female in the cast—and she has obvious chemistry with Chanler-Berat.

Though the title seems to indicate that Peter is the star of this show, even the talented Chanler-Berat can’t outshine the personality of Black Stache, the more-silly-than-sinister pirate played deviously by Matthew Saldivar, who replaced the Tony-winning Christian Borle.

The dastardly Black Stache is a huge stage presence with a booming voice, sweeping gestures and exaggerated expressions. He’s easily the most engaging character, and his frequent misuse of words also makes him the most endearing.

This over-the-top approach falls flat only once: when Black Stache loses his hand in a move that ultimately leads to a new hooked appendage and a catchy, new name. Saldivar exhibits visible anguish lasting nearly a full minute; it’s long enough to make you laugh heartily, cease completely, buy back into it for a final laugh and then get sick of it again. Luckily, it’s a single awkward moment in Saldivar’s skillful and otherwise truly enjoyable performance.

The 12 actors in the show multitask, reappearing as pirates, island natives and mermaids at the drop—or quick change—of a hat. But the props work overtime, too. A single length of rope is manipulated to form doorways, stairs, railings, waves, and a boxing ring, among other things. Combine this with mystical lighting and the incredible sounds of the magical world of Peter and friends, and it’s no surprise that the show, directed by Roger Rees and Alex Timbers, won a Tony for set, sound and lighting.

Peter and the Starcatcher closes at The Brooks Atkinson Theatre on January 20, but the magic will continue Off-Broadway at New World Stages beginning in March.

*Peter and the Starcatcher closed on Broadway on Jan. 20, 2013. It will resume an Off-Broadway run at the New World Stages beginning on March 18, 2013. 

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