Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Peter and the Starcatcher @ Brooks Atkinson Theatre

We all know the story of Peter Pan.  Maybe you know the novel, the Disney cartoon, the dozen real life versions, the Broadway musical, Hook, or even Finding Neverland, but one thing that all these stories miss is the beginning.  How did Peter Pan become the boy that never grew up?  Well, now that the bestselling novel from Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson as become a stage production even more people can learn the answer.  Peter and the Starcatcher hits the Broadway stage, direct from a sold out run off-Broadway, with imagination, creativity, and plenty of starstuff.  With a crazy talented ensemble, stunning direction, and beyond gorgeous technical elements, Peter and the Starcatcher is the must see show for children and adults alike.  As a matter of fact, you will probably want to see it again, and again, and again … it is truly that perfect!
Three orphans sold into slavery.  A father and daughter on a secret mission for the Queen (God save her).  A pirate with a stache and a right hand man.  A tribal leader with a hungry crocodile.  This cast of characters intertwines in a whimsical story that shows us all the power of family, friendship, and love.  Playwright Rick Elice has created the next great American play centered around orphan with no name and his encounter with a smart girl named Molly.  Together these two take on pirates, tribal leaders, mermaids, and crocodiles all in order to protect the magical starstuff, bits of fallen star with special powers.  In the middle of all this adventure, the brave orphan boy transforms into the Peter Pan that the world knows and loves.  This journey is fun, exciting, touching, funny, and downright entertaining.
Imagination is the key tool behind Peter and the Starcatcher as a cast of twelve performers transform into hundreds of different characters right before the audiences eyes.  This ensemble is works in perfect unison to deliver a high energy performance that is just a wonder to watch.  The boy that becomes Peter Pan is brought to the surface by Adam Chanler-Berat (off-Broadway’s latest revival of RENT).  Chanler-Berat does a remarkable job of transforming from shy, put down orphan to brave, hopeful Peter.  His boyish charm shined trough allowing the entire audience to fall madly in love with him and his quest for self discovery.  Helping him on this mission was the fearless Molly, portrayed by Celia Keenan-Bolger (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee).  Keenan-Bolger took on this role and gave it all of the guts and glory that it needed to thrive.  With her sharp wit and determination, Molly is a fun character to stand behind; determined to help Peter find a home, a family, and a purpose, Molly will stop at nothing to care for her new friend.  Keenan-Bolger and Chanler-Berat work wonderfully together to create the cutest couple on Broadway; however, there is one that hates all of that cuteness - none other than Captain Black Stache, played by none other than the remarkable Christian Borle (Legally Blonde and the current NBC hit Smash).  Borle delivers the performance of his career in a role that is the perfect fit for this charming character actor.  While mean and cut throat on the inside, outside Black Stache is a crazy, goofy, and delightful villain who desperately wants to find his hero - after all, a villain is only as good has his rival.  Borle is simply brilliant; filled with ease and humor, he delivers a power house performance that is worth of not only a nomination, but a Tony Awards win!  Surrounding these three are equally talented and loony characters that give there all in this crazy original and masterfully crafted new piece!  Arnie Burton (The 39 Steps), Kevin Del Aguila (book writer of Altar Boyz), and Greg Hildreth (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), just to name a few work their tails off eight times a week to bring the joy, laughter, and heart to all those who enter the Brooks Atkinson Theatre for each performance.
Upon entering the theatre, it is made crystal clear that you are in for a night of sheer fun and entertainment.  From the dazzling lighting to the breath taking scenery, directors Roger Rees (off-Broadway’s Arms and the Man) and Alex Timbers (The Pee-wee Herman Show) have worked hard to bring all of the wonderfully crafted elements found in Rick Elice’s (Jersey Boys) script to life.  Elice does a fantastic job of creating a world that is full of big laughs and tons of heart; the perfect script for children and adults alike.  Rees and Timbers work together with movement coach Steven Hoggett (American Idiot) to create a piece that is high energy and flows with fluency to the score created by Wayne Barker (Dame Edna: Back with a Vengeance).  While it is predominately a play, two full songs and plenty of underscore give this light hearted piece the perfect feel of whimsy.  Four top notch designers bring their A-game to this piece perfectly bringing the world of London, the sea, and a mystery island in to the hearts of the audience.  Using completely found materials like kitchen utensils, timers, corks, rope, and more, scenic designer Donyale Werle (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) creates a space that completely calls for the audience to put aside their need to see everything, and simple go back to their childhood ways of imagination.  Helping with the imagination is lighting designer Jeff Croiter (Newsies), who uses bold colors and innovative lighting to create the feel of several different locations - the shore, the ocean, a pirate ship, a jungle, and more.  Also, costume designer Paloma H. Young (Old Globe’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and sound designer Darron L. West (Chinglish) created costumes that cleverly appeared to be torn right out of an abandoned warehouse and sound effects that were created live in the pit.  Together, this creative team was just that, “creative.”  Thinking like big children, the world of the boy who never grows up, was perfectly crafted.
Peter and the Starcatcher is quite simply the best new piece of theatre currently running on Broadway.  Filled with love and imagination for everyone, a cast of twelve transforms into some of the most beloved characters of all time for one reason and one reason only … to entertain.  Catch a ride on the one of the world’s craziest boat rides and learn the true meaning of live quality theatre!

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