“Peter & The Starcatcher” at the Orpheum Theatre: In-ARGH-uably Charming!

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Peter and the Starcatcher set sail and cruised into the Orpheum Theater on Tuesday, March 11th.  As the lights dim, the audience quickly gets their sea legs and climbs aboard into the prequel to Peter Pan. Originally a novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, Peter and the Starcatcher is in-ARGH-uably charming, witty, and in Minneapolis until March 16th.

The original story of Peter Pan opens with a tap on the window, fairy dust, and a magical flight to Neverland, but how did Peter Pan even get to Wendy’s house in the first place? Peter and the Starcatcher answers this question.  Three orphaned boys become trapped on the bowels of the ship, the Neverland. Eventually, they are saved by Molly a privileged and strong-headed girl, who is immediately sympathetic for the boys’ state. The four join together in facing an angsty group of pirates in a race to save a chest full of “star stuff”. “Star stuff” can bring whatever your heart desires; it’s the reason Peter Pan can fly in the original tale. However, in the show Molly a star catching apprentice, wants to rescue the “star stuff” so she can be a full-fledged starcatcher. The show connects the dots and creates an engaging and creative backstory to a classic tale.

With a small cast of twelve all hands are on deck for a night of brilliant performances. This show has uniquely two lead heroes. Molly a young, out-spoken, and independent girl evolving into a recognized star catcher and Peter who begins as a nameless boy, finds himself and emerges into the true leader that he is, by the end of the show. Yet, the whole cast sails into the hearts of the audience. Even Black Stache the primary villain of the show is so quirky and over the top that the audience cannot help but love him.

The performances are incredibly organic and authentic, due to scaled down production elements. The show uses few props, and relies on the actors for larger set pieces such as doors, footrests, and other larger items. Many would assume using actors like this would be cheap and could never work. However, with a whimsical script and a sparkling cast, the playfulness carries through into the technical side of the show as well. With a limited set, the lighting design becomes the treasure map to understanding the story. Three colored lights help differentiate where events are occurring. Blue colored lighting represents the ship the Neverland; yellow is the ship the Wasp, and green is for the second act when the story is on an island. The technical elements on stage are thoughtfully executed making a cohesive and strong show.

 Peter and the Starcatcher is an imaginative and heart-warming voyage that captures the essence of innocence, family, first love, and why growing up can hurt sometimes. Peter even says at the end of the show “It’s supposed to hurt, that’s how you know it meant something.” Watching the cast take their final bows and the curtain closing definitely hurt. Yet, the stinging reminder that everyone grows up and you cannot be a kid forever hurt even more. Even though everybody’s childhood is different, when it’s gone, the absence means something to everyone.