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Peter and the Starcatcher

a Comedy
by Rick Elice

COMPANY : Georgia Ensemble Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Georgia Ensemble Theatre and Conservatory [WEBSITE]
ID# 4863

SHOWING : February 25, 2016 - March 13, 2016



In this swashbuckling grown-up’s prequel to "Peter Pan," you will be HOOKED from the moment you let your imagination take FLIGHT.

Close your eyes and imagine a magical evening of madcap fun! You will marvel at the limitless possibilities of make-believe as a dozen brilliant actors play more than 100 unforgettable characters in this swashbuckling adventure. Fun for the whole family! Best for ages 10 and up.

Director Heidi Cline
Lord Aster Bryan Brendle
Mack/Fighting Prawn Josh Brook
Molly Molly Coyne
Ted Nicholas Faircloth
Ensemble Ptah Garvin
Boy Jeremiah Hobbs
Sanchez/Hawking Clam Jonathan Horne
Mrs. Bumbrake/Teacher Steven L. Hudson
Alf Vinnie Mascola
Black Stache Jeff McKerley
Prentiss Brandon Partrick
Capt. Scott/Grempkin Spencer G. Stephens
Smee Al Stilo
Slank Jeff Watkins
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Peter and Pre-Wendy
by playgoer
Monday, February 29, 2016
I’ve had my fill recently of Peter Pan stories. We’ve had the musical "Peter Pan" on NBC-TV and then at Atlanta Lyric; we’ve had "Finding Neverland" on film and Broadway. And now we have "Peter and the Starcatcher" at Georgia Ensemble.

I’ve also about had my fill of Heidi Cline/Jeff McKerley productions recently. Her brand of high-energy, comic bit-filled productions and his brand of zany improvisational winking at the audience come on strong. There’s a lot of fun to be had, but it’s fun best suited to audiences new to this production team, such as the kids I heard giggling happily at some of Mr. McKerley’s over-the-top shenanigans as the show was drawing to a close.

"Peter and the Starcatcher" is hyped as family-friendly, but to me it seems primarily a children’s show. The main characters are written as teens (although played here by young adult actors), and the broadness of the other characters reduces them to the level of cartoons. I’m sure the show is plenty of high-powered fun for the actors, but that fun does not necessarily relate directly to the pleasure an adult audience experiences.

The heart of the story works. Molly Coyne is charming and able as Molly, a sort of pre-Wendy character, and Jeremiah Parker Hobbs’ sincerity impresses mightily as the Boy who develops into Peter Pan. The two Lost Boys, played by Brandon Partrick and Nicholas Faircloth, also provide charm and sincerity that make the major relationships of the story work.

Everyone in the cast is put to double duty (or triple or quadruple), particularly since Heidi Cline McKerley’s blocking makes extensive use of the actors as scenic elements, holding ropes to delineate specific areas. Costumes, by the team of Isabel & Moriah Curley-Clay, layer appropriate base outfits with character-defining additions as actors morph into new roles. The set design, also by Isabel & Moriah Curley-Clay, has a ship deck far downstage, with a stylized ship upstage in the first act. The proscenium is festooned with canvas and wood and a giant illuminated compass, like a deconstructed ship, and light bulbs hang above the stage to represent stars. Andre Allen’s lighting design has plenty of effective effects, but the hanging light bulbs don’t really contribute much. Jason Polhemus’ sound design primarily plays Bryan Mercer’s music tracks as accompaniment to the show’s handful of songs (music by Wayne Barker), choreographed by Jeff McKerley.

Playwright Rick Elice identifies "star stuff" as the material that transforms creatures into some of the inhabitants of Neverland, and provides back stories for Peter Pan, Wendy, and Captain Hook. He invents a Mrs. Bumbrake (Steve Hudson) who acts as a Nana for Molly (with some nice flirtation with Vinnie Mascola’s Alf), but he never provides an explanation for how Nana, the dog of "Peter Pan," might have come into being.

I highly recommend the show for children with the patience to sit through a two-hour-plus production. The show is advertised as "best for ages 10 and up," but the giggles of delight I heard came from children a little younger than that. With its non-stop action and inventive elements, like a giant crocodile tail dropping above the audience and lightning bolts projected on the wall of the auditorium, it’s a sensory feast and delightful introduction to the magic of theatre. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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