“Peter and the Starcatcher” is a bizarre production
April 10, 2017
Filed under The Edge
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“Peter and the Starcatcher” was put on by the Western IllinoisDepartment of Theaterand Dance this week from Wednesday to Sunday in Hainline Theater at Browne Hall.The show describesthe backstory of PeterPan leading up to him landing on Neverland and starting his band of Lost Boys. “Peter and the Starcatcher” featured a nearly entirely male cast with music, odd humor, set changes and lines that were very atypical of a musical.
The writing and production of show itself was a bit odd. The cast moved the sets as they moved from scene to scene, something that one does not often see during a stage performance. Additionally, the actors often described what they were doing on stage and what the scene was like around them, often in unison. During a fight scene on the open ocean, the entire cast started describing what the scene around them would be showing if it were accurate. They were shouting out wind speeds, water conditions — describing the whole storm that was occurring around them. It was very strange and at first seemed out of place, but as the show continued, it helped the audience get a feel for what was actually happening.
The production had only one female actress in the entire cast — even the female nanny Mrs. Bumbrake, was played by a man. That one female, Monica Tate, played the character of Molly, the spunky 13 — year — old girl that helped turn a sad orphan boy without a name into the hero of Peter Pan (Brett Jon Olson). Both Tate and Olson did phenomenalwith the portrayal of their characters. The goofinessof the rest of the cast made it tricky to see significant onstage chemistry.
Just about every character had a bit of ridiculousness about them. Each one was exaggerated and obnoxious but fun. It was also interesting to see that there was about a third of the cast that played more than one character. Jason Shores played both Mrs. Bumbrake and Teacher, Warren Freeland played Mack and Sanchez, Dustin LaFleur played Slank and Hawking Clam and Christopher Martin played Fighting Prawn and Grempkin. These actors all did an excellent job making each of their characters unique.
Speaking of ridiculous, exaggerated and obnoxious behavior; during a fight scene, each of the characters used a different commonplace item as a weapon. There were hockey sticks, a light saber, tennis racket, bowling pin, mop and much more. The whole fight scene came about after an impromptu boxing ring was set up for a one — on — one fight between two characters who were supposed to be aboard a ship. The whole playwas conducted in this bizarre manner.
All of the classic Peter Pan characters are explained in this show, covering all of their backstories. We find out that Captain Hook was once known as Black Stache (DC Wright) who was a rather dimwitted pirate. And Smee (Luke Jaconis), who in popular Peter Pan stories is often portrayed as the less than brilliant sidekick to Captain Hook, was actually the brains behind most of what the pirate did. Even Tinker Bell was alluded to in the story, at the very end Molly’s dad, Lord Aster (Christopher Burch) a Starcatcher, adds some star-stuff to an island insect, turning it into a tiny fairy.
After all of the characters are shipwrecked in a storm, they slowly make their way to mysterious island. There the audience is introduced to island natives, who are very peculiar. These natives had their own language, which consisted of various Italian dishes. They literally ran around the stage calling out the names of pastas,sauces and desserts common in Italian cuisine.
The music in this musical was actually very well done. The men of the cast and Monica Tate all performed wonderfully. They were inkey and synchronized, something that can be difficult to do, especially while moving around on a stage.
All in all, despite the strangeness of the musical, it was done very well. The actors and actress did a fantastic job portraying their silly characters. The odd announcements in unison were actually in unison.And everyone did a great job projecting their voices on a large stage, in a large theater, without microphones. Unfortunately, the last performance was Sunday but for those who were able to enjoy the show, it is one they will not forget.
There is still one more show this semester for students and the community to see. A studio production called “A Doll’s House” will run April 21and 22 at 7:30 p.m. in Simpkins Theater.