“Peter and the Starcatcher” an origin story worth seeing

It seems that origin stories are all the rage these days in both film and on stage. We can’t get enough of our favorite heroes, and those who are fans of Peter Pan and his adventures in Neverland will be glad to know that their favorite flying lost boy’s origin story is being presented at Pioneer Theatre Company.

“Peter and the Starcatcher” connects the origin of Peter and his fellow lost boys with the infamous Captain Hook, while cleverly giving clues to the origins of other characters throughout the show. Despite having the origin story label, “Peter and the Starcatcher” still stands on its own with a fast-paced narrative full of quick quips, action and plenty of plot twists that keep the audience actively engaged throughout the show.

Presenting “Peter and the Starcatcher” on stage is no easy task as the plot line involves two dueling ships and an island with a giant crocodile. However, director Jenn Thompson does an excellent job of using nearly every bit of available space to create the illusion of sailing the high seas. Where Thompson truly excels is by replicating the magic of the book the play is based on by using her imagination and asking the audience to join along in the fun.

Thompson relies on her cast to make the task of imagining the fantastic events unfolding on stage by the audience easy on the eye. Members of the cast are asked to play multiple roles seamlessly as they portray both the crew on the “Neverland” and the “Wasp” on top of their duties of serving as actual set pieces. The frenzied action requires cohesive teamwork, and the cast performs together like a well-oiled machine.

Peter, played by Liam Forde, and Molly, played by Justine Salata, bring undeniable charm to their roles as the love-struck couple who are constantly trying to out-do each other. The onstage compatibility of Salata and Forde as they mesh teenage angst with having to make grown-up decisions is both beautiful and believable. Salata in particular stands out with a thoroughly enjoyable performance that enchants both Peter and the audience.

However, it’s the man with the ‘stache who stands out with his physical panache and, at times, verbose vocabulary. Leo Ash Evens steals the spotlight every time he is on stage with his convincing and engaging portrayal of Black Stache. He brings the lazy demureness of the Cheshire Cat with a dash of Jack Sparrow as he delightfully prances around the stage, drawing the attention of the audience with his bellowing voice and wild eyes. Evens manages to be a very likeable villain, despite the fact he is constantly threatening to slice people open.

By the time the play ended on the newly named island of Neverland, the audience was more than satisfied, while Peter Pan fans left the theatre with a whole new perspective and insight on the origins of some of their favorite characters. When Molly gives her final teary goodbyes to Peter and leaves Neverland behind for adulthood, the audience regretfully must do the same, but not without the satisfaction of knowing that at least Peter Pan will remain forever young. Though, after spending a night inhaling “star stuff” along with the cast of “Peter and the Starcatcher,” it’s clear that we can at least remain young at heart.

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@ChronyArts