Well-played ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’ at Prince William Little Theatre

This Peter Pan origin story is rich in antic humor and theatrical invention, and the cast is easy to embrace.

Based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, Peter and the Starcatcher explores how a young orphan ultimately became Peter Pan. In 2012, Christian Borle won the Tony for best actor in a featured role, as the character Black Stache. This adaptation — with book and lyrics by Rick Elice and music by Wayne Barker — is not a musical, but more of a play with music, featuring certain characters with brief songs and musical interludes.

Elizabeth Moore as Molly and Ollie Maxted as Boy (Peter) in ‘Peter and the Starcatcher.’ Photo by Amanda Elena photography.

Prince William Little Theatre’s production of this Peter Pan origin story is rich in antic humor and theatrical invention, but the stardust loses its potency just a little bit. The beginning of the story is a bit confusing and switches back and forth frantically between two ships — the “good guys and the bad guys” — without much clarity. Once the entire gang of orphans, pirates, and aristocrats get caught up in the storm at sea, the show tends to get a little spread apart as well. The script contains tongue twisters, bad puns, and fleetingly tossed-off anachronisms that aren’t easy to accept. Additionally, the bunch of “savages” on the island who want to ”butterfly and deep-fat fry” Peter & Co. definitely overstay their welcome.

However, the cast is easy to embrace. Elizabeth Moore is delightful as Molly, whose task is to keep a precious cargo of stardust from evil pirates. Moore brings a lovely genuine quality to the role of the teenager caught between child and adult. Ollie Maxted’s performance is sweet and earnest as The Boy — whose character eventually earns the name of Peter Pan — and their chemistry together is quite adorable. Cameron McBride is adequately malevolent as Black Stache. Smee, played by Claire Jeffrey, adds great counterpoint to his humor. Jeffrey is particularly funny with her delivery of one-liners and her facial expressions. Additionally, Avery Heisy’s portrayal of semi–lost boy Ted is equally funny and endearing. Other standouts were Abbie Mulberg as Mack, the Teacher, and her wonderfully funny representation of the bird that would eventually become Tinkerbell, and Will MacLeod as Lord Aster with his unending devotion to the British Crown. Raeanna Nicole Larson also hams it up giddily as Molly’s prim but not proper nanny, Mrs. Bumbrake.

Cameron McBride as Black Stache, Kristoffer Ray as Alf, Will MacLeod as Lord Leonard Aster, and Ollie Maxted as Boy (Peter) in ‘Peter and the Starcatcher.’ Photo by Amanda Elena photography.

Set designers Nick Mastrangelo and Mia Villani do a nice job with set elements. When you walk into the theater you can anticipate the feeling of “Neverland” quite reminiscent of the Disney movie Hook, with its nautical elements and curtain of stars. Additionally, lighting designers Keven Smith and Anna Burell do a clever job with the effects of the amulet that Molly uses to communicate with her father, and the light that ultimately transforms into Tinkerbell.

Although the show is a bit disjointed and a bit long, it’s best to appreciate Peter and the Starcatcher if you don’t expect it to do for Peter Pan what Wicked did for The Wizard of Oz; in other words, to expect it to be a true prequel rather than a separate story. The idea behind this show is not a bad one. It does contain a childlike whimsy and hope for the imagination. And, as Director Anna Burell states in a program note, we all need to “keep the magic of childhood for as long as we can.”

Running Time: Two hours 30 minutes with a 15-minute intermission.

Peter and the Starcatcher plays through October 23, 2022, presented by Prince William Little Theatre performing in the Gregory Family Theater at the Hylton Performing Arts Center, located on the George Mason University campus at 10960 George Mason Circle in Manassas, VA. Tickets ($24 for adults, $21 for seniors/students/active military, $17 for children 12 and under) are available at the door or can be purchased online.

Upcoming performances:
Friday, October 21, 2022, at 8:00 pm
Saturday, October 22, 2022, at 2:00 pm
Saturday, October 22, 2022, at 8:00 pm
Sunday, October 23, 2022, at 2:00 pm

COVID Safety: Face coverings are recommended for indoor events at the Hylton Center. See current Hylton Performing Arts Center protocols here.

Director: Anna Burrell
Producer: Chrissy Mastrangelo
Music Directors: Caelyn Davis and David Burrell,
Stage Manager: Shelby Cody-Jones
Lighting Design: Keven Smith and Anna Burell
Set Design & Build: Nick Mastrangelo and Mia Villani
Costume Design: Sara Negron

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Dana Roberts
Dana Roberts is a Loudoun County Public School English Teacher. She has an undergraduate degree in Sociology with a minor in Music Education and Flute and Voice from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a graduate degree in Special Education from George Mason University. She has been an actress in theater in the DC Metro Area since the age of 5, and has been a member of the Fairfax Choral Society, Cathedral Choral Society, the Reston Chorale, and is currently a member of the Alexandria Singers. She is also a member of the National Council for Teachers of English, the National Education Association, and the Council for Exceptional Children, as well as a past member of the Alexandria Singers Board of Directors. Currently she lives in Leesburg, VA, with her husband and her two beagles, Riley and Paisley.

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