Starcatcher catches the imagination at Dobama Theatre

“To have faith is to have wings…”
Molly in Peter and the Starcatcher
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Actress Molly Israel as Molly in Peter and the Starcatcher at Dobama

There are many stories about the legend of Peter Pan, and Dobama Theatre’s prequel production of “Peter and the Starcatcher” is one of the more enchanting tales. This 5-time Tony Award winning play will continue its encore run now through December 31, 2016, as director Melissa Crum has created a wondrous world where magical whimsy meets the tug-of-war of growing up.

The Starcatcher story is by Rick Elice and based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, with music by Wayne Barker.

Complete with references to familiar Peter Pan lore such as Lost Boys, pirates, and a giant crocodile, the story follows 13-year-old Molly (Molly Israel) and her father, Lord Aster (Jason Leupold), as they embark on an important mission to get a special trunk full of magical “starstuff” to a safe place. Being Starcatchers (well, Molly is still an apprentice), it is their sacred duty to protect the stuff from falling into the wrong hands. Also along for the journey is Molly’s nanny, Mrs. Bumbrake (James Rankin).

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God Save the Queen! Jason Leupold as Lord Aster, Molly Israel as Molly, and the pirate crew in Peter and the Starcatcher

When they split themselves between two ships (the Wasp and the Neverland), things go awry as pirates, “pigs,” and prawns prove a problem for Molly, Lord Aster, and the men around them.

Leading the pack of pungent pirates is Black Stache (Christopher Bohan), a flamboyantly foul villain. His first mate, Smee (Andrew Gorell), is joined by crew members Alf (Robert Ellis) and Slank (Brett DiCello). These burping, farting gems of the sea provide the adversarial atmosphere required, while still being delightfully funny and entertaining.

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Orphans revealed in Peter and the Starcatcher

Among our “lost” boys are Prentiss (Luke Brett), Ted (Shaun O’Neill), and a nameless boy who’s never caught a break in life (Luke Wehner).

With all of the talent creating over 100 characters, we’re whisked away from the bowels of the boats onto the shores of an impressive island. The scenery journeys from dark tunnels and multi-tiered decks to lavish jungle-scapes and mermaid caverns.

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Mesmerizing mermaids in Peter and the Starcatcher

As the expedition crosses places near and far, the characters travel within themselves to find what they want the most.

Israel is an effervescent Molly, bringing a limitless energy to the girl who only wants to prove herself as a bold and shining Starcatcher.

The tag team of Brett as the leadership-seeking Prentiss and O’Neill as the food-obsessed Ted is delightful, as they play off each other with the frolicsomeness of mischievous boys.

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Pirates in Peter and the Starcatcher

Wehner is wonderful as the nameless boy who earns the famous moniker of Peter Pan. He exudes possibility amidst despair, and gives the character of Peter a longing and beautiful essence. He is a spark about to ignite.

The production aspects of the show are excellent. Tesia Dugan Benson‘s Costume Design, Aaron Benson‘s Scenic Design, Marcus Dana‘s Lighting Design, and Richard B. Ingraham‘s Sound Design all ravel together to transport the audience into the intricate worlds of wonder on the stage.

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Jungle chase in Peter and the Starcatcher

Favorite visuals of note include all of the pop-up trap doors in the stage itself, the sparkly mermaid costumes, a moment of “levity” by Molly and the glowing “stars” that surround her during the effect. There are also delightful elements of both traditional and shadow puppetry used on this voyage of fancy and friendship.

 

Aster: Eventually, of course, we dream other dreams.
Prentiss: We change.
Ted: We grow up.
Aster: It always happens. Nothing is forever.
Boy: That’s the rule.
Molly: Everything ends.
Stache: And so our story begins.

The band adds an enjoyable musical layer to the dancing and merriment. Conducted by Jordan Cooper and rounded out by Justin Hart, these two have the orchestrations covered.

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(left to right) Christopher Bohan as Black Stache and Andrew Gorell as Smee in Peter and the Starcatcher

Running 1 hour and 20 minutes, plus a 15-minute intermission, the show feels a bit long, but is never short on entertainment. There is a Content Advisory for Fog and Lighting Effects, and a “Green Show” of “piratical folderol” takes place 20 minutes prior to each performance. Dobama encourages one and all “to arrive early so you won’t miss it!” The production is recommended for ages 6 and up.

“Peter and the Starcatcher” runs at Dobama Theatre through December 31, 2016. Tickets and information are available at www.dobama.org or by calling 216-932-3396.

HOLIDAY TICKET PRICES
TUES-THUR. – $35 ADULT, $20 STUDENT
FRIDAY – $38 ADULT, $20 STUDENT
SATURDAY (MAT) – $35 ADULT, $20 STUDENT
SATURDAY (EVE) – $38 ADULT, $20 STUDENT
SUNDAY – $35 ADULT, $20 STUDENT

 

 

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