Oscar E Moore

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Peter and the Starcatcher – Peter Pan prequel at New York Theatre Workshop

March 10th, 2011 by Oscar E Moore

Adam Chanler-Berat & Christian Borle

Adam Chanler-Berat & Christian Borle

The big question isn’t how an orphan boy in Victorian London who hated adults and didn’t want to grow up came to be Peter Pan, it’s will you have a frolicking fun time finding out?   The answer is a resounding yes.

Three immensely imaginative men Rick Elise (text), Roger Rees (Director) and Alex Timbers (Director) have put their collective creative heads together, pooled their most basic of resources and have fashioned a frenetic, fast paced, witty play with music (Wayne Barker) for adults over the age of eight called “Peter and the Starcatcher” based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson – Peter and the Starcatchers.

It’s a little bit of Nicholas Nickleby that starred Mr. Rees, a little bit Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson – which Mr. Timbers brought to life with an English Music Hall, fractured fairy tale, frat boys will be boy’s sensibility that could very well be called “A Tale of Two Trunks” – where alliteration abounds and astounds.  You’ll want to see it twice, at least, to catch every single joke both aural and visual.  The use of nautical rope, aluminum steamers and a yellow rubber glove tweak our imagination.

The text by Mr. Elise is delicious.  Chock full of jokes and puns, made up words (Norse Code – nonversation) and off the wall characters that bring to mind Lewis Carroll and the Marx Brothers.

Some trimming of the first act which sets up beautifully the second might make the show a bit tighter.  It is in Act II that all the elements come into play and pay off and we see the development of Peter (a fine Adam Chanler-Berat) and his relationship/rivalry with the strong-willed Molly (Celia Keenan Bolger) blossom and his coming to terms with his nemesis Black Stache (an incredible Christian Borle).

Christian Borle.  What an amazing, maniacal, comedic performance. With his painted on mustache, rubbery body and perfect timing one cannot get enough of him as the “ruthless, heartless, peerless and a bit Nancy” Stache.  He’s pure genius.

Correcting his every misused word is Smee (a delightful Kevin Del Aguila).   Lord Aster (Karl Kenzler) Molly’s dad tries to keep the trunk containing the magical star substance out of the hands of Stache and his fellow pirates.  They eventually all wind up on some Mollusk Isle after being shipwrecked where fish have become mermaids after being exposed to the magical star stuff.  They wear some of the most incredibly clever costumes ever seen by Paloma Young.

Molly’s nanny, Mrs. Bumbrake, is portrayed by the irresistible Arnie Burton who has a fling with one funny pirate named Alf (Greg Hildreth).  As Captain Scott, Brandon Dirden garners our full attention.

All the frenzy and clever quips resolve in a most heartwarming and tender ending.  It’s an incredible “shiver me timbers” adventure.   www.NYTW.org

Photo:  Joan Marcus

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