Reviewed by Kathleen Kirby
If you are a fan of Peter Pan, you may enjoy the production currently playing at UM-Flint. To launch the Theatre and Dance 2018/19 season, the stage was overrun Friday night with a host of characters including pirates, orphans, ship captains, lords and ladies, even mermaids and mollusks! Peter and the Star Catcher is actually a prequel to the well-known story of the boy who never grew up.
Written by Rick Elice and based on a novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson with music by Wayne Baker, this tale takes place nearly entirely onboard two ships, one a pirate frigate and the other a royal Britannica vessel. The set is interesting and colorful as the ropes and gangways sway and sparkle throughout.
In this story Peter has no name to begin with and only earns it in the end. But for most of the show he is an unnamed orphan held captive along with two other orphans bound for nothing good! Paul Gregor does a nice job with this Peter and manages to portray the frustration associated with growing up nicely. His cronies, Ted (Giovanni Moore III) and Prentiss (Jarrett Collins) are a comical duo much given to slapstick. Moore’s reaction to mention of a sugary sweet is unique and hilarious.
Most prominent is the young gal, Molly (Briana Wilson), the Starcatcher. Her father is Lord Aster (Austin Kimbrell) and these two share a mystical connection and access to “starstuff”! Wilson brings competence and control to this role and good thing, because everyone else is nearly out of control!
Black Stache the Pirate (Josh Cornea) is clearly the fellow who will come to be known later as Captain Hook, but in this tale he still has his hand. Cornea is bombastic and was especially funny Friday when his mustache kept finding itself detaching!
His sidekick, Smee (Gage Webster) is possibly the most active and gymnastically hysterical character on the stage. He’s pretty funny as a mermaid later on as well.
It does appear that director Janet Haley had her hands full with this crew and this show. There was rarely a quiet moment on the stage and sometimes it became confusing. Still everyone moved about well with lots of interesting entrances and great wave action when folks went overboard!
This is also a musical, yet it wasn’t all that successful in that regard. The amplified piano accompaniment was quite loud and often drowned out the non-amplified lyrics. The only words we recognized were in the Navy Hymn and that’s because it was familiar. It’s frustrating to not understand what’s being sung.
Basically it struck us as a bit of an odd show. Glimpses of comedic characters were fun but generally any specific exposition to explain character background was too murky to allow much real identification with them.
Still, there is a lesson and a message – be kind, help when you can, and be a friend. Life is what we make it, and as Molly says, “Things are only worth what you’re willing to give up for them.”
Peter and the Starcatcher continues at the UM-Flint Department of Theatre and Dance Oct. 27-28 & Nov. 2-4. For more information contact them online at www.umflint.edu/theatredance