Broadway Review: Peter and the Starcatcher (2012)

Peter and the Starcatcher theater poster
Peter and the Starcatcher theater poster

Many people know the story of Peter Pan, and Disney has really popularized Tinker Bell and her fairies, but are people curious to know the back story to Peter before he visited Wendy and her brothers? Well this play with the use of music tells the story.

We first meet the widower, Lord Aster and his daughter, Molly, at the beginning of the musical. Lord Aster is the new ambassador to Rundoon and is headed there on her majesty's ship, The Wasp, carrying valuable cargo in a large wooden chest. Molly will meet up with her father but travel on another ship, Never Land, in the care of her nanny, Mrs. Bumbrake. Also on the Neverland are three orphaned boys who have been sold by the orphanage's manager to the king of Rundoon as slaves or food, whichever serves his fancy. The boys are mistreated by the first mate, Slank. Unbeknownst to Lord Aster, Slank, is a conniving schemer who plans to steal the valuable cargo from The Wasp by exchanging it with a lookalike wooden chest. He is successful and The Wasp sails away with the wrong cargo. Now Lord Aster is a special person, he is a Starcatcher and responsible for taking care of starstuff, fallen stars which possess great powers. There are only 6 and 1/2 Starcatchers in the world, Molly is the 1/2 because she is an apprentice Starcatcher under her father's tutelage. It is their responsibility to look after starstuff and prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.


Peter and the Starcatcher marquis
Peter and the Starcatcher marquis

The Wasp is being tracked by a fearsome pirate, the Black Stache, who attacks royal ships because he knows they carry valuable items. In the meanwhile, Molly finds out that the startstuff is on the Neverland and magically communicates this to her father. Lord Aster tells Molly that it is now her mission to protect the valuable starstuff and she willingly takes on the responsibility. The Black Stache and his pirates capture the Wasp and find out that the valuable cargo is not there, so they commandeer The Wasp and go after the Never Land. Molly has befriended the orphan boys on the Never Land and enlist their help in protecting the starstuff. Boy, Ted and Prentiss are always arguing amongst themselves about who is the leader. Boy has no proper name because he was left at the orphanage as a baby without a name.

The Wasp catches up to Never Land so one of the orphans, Boy, rams Never Land into The Wasp to stop the pirates from boarding. Of course both ships sink and Molly tells Boy to look after the wooden chest which floats and carries him to Mollusk Island. Eventually, Molly, Mrs Bumbrake, the Black Stache, Lord Astor, the captain of The Wasp, Ted, and Prentiss make it to the island where they encounter Fighting Prawn, chief of the Mollusk Tribe. Fighting Prawn hates the English. Mollusk Island has a fearsome man-eating creature and Fighting Prawn plans to feed the shipwrecked English to it. Will Fighting Prawn succeed? Did the Black Stache get his hands on the starstuff? How will the shipwrecked English ever get off the island? What happens to Boy and Molly?

As you can see this is a wonderful story. The play is more or less faithfully adapted from the children's novel, Peter and the Starcatchers, written by David Barry and Ridley Pearson. The play is bright, inventive, imaginative, engaging, and funny. The ensemble acting is superb, the sets are colorful and creative, the music is lively, the characters are fully realized, and the use of theater tricks to convey the story is clever. It is a great evening of theater and one that your and your children will enjoy. Peter and the Starcatcher are currently on previews and will have their official opening night at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on April 15.

The play is written by Rick Elice, who co-wrote Jersey Boys. Music is by Wayne Barker who was the music arranger and composer of Dame Edna: Back with a Vengeance, and Clue: The Musical. Wonderful direction by Roger Rees and Alex Timbers. I hope that they have a long run.

Brooks Atkinson Theatre

A marker256 W 47th St. New York, NY -
256 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036, USA
[get directions]

Peter and the Starcatcher is currently on previews until April 15th when it will officially start its Broadway run.

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