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     Peter and the Starcatcher is a dynamic and mischievously funny foray into the origins of Peter Pan. This hilarious high seas adventure is complete with pirates, singing mermaids, the strange inhabitants of Mollusk Island and a trunk filled with mysterious star stuff.

     Written by Rick Elice with music by Wayne Barker, Peter and the Starcatcher is based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. The play is a fanciful explanation of how the orphan “Boy” became Peter Pan, met his nemesis Captain Hook, obtained magical powers and found Neverland and Tinker Bell.

     Despite a slow start, this is an insanely funny (and large) cast moving at a frenetic pace in perfectly timed high energy performances, coupled with pitch perfect singing. They give new meaning to the word ensemble and there is a madcap quality to their movements and delivery that sitting in the audience you wonder if you might have swallowed a hallucinogen. The entire cast is outstanding but a few performances deserve more time in the spotlight.

     Making their TheatreWorks debut, Cullen Burling as Boy (Peter Pan) and Abbey Lynch as Molly (a Starcatcher in training) bring an enchanting youthful exuberance to their roles. Playing two characters (Mrs. Bumbrake, a nanny of sorts and Teacher, a fish turned into a glowing mermaid) Bruce Tredwell gives a gleeful performance with just enough camp to be divine.

     In a moment of slap stick perfection, lead pirate Black Stache (Matt Austin) slips off a trunk with fumbling assistance from his first mate Smee (Steve Stott) and the show tilts into high gear. These two make me wish I had been there through rehearsals. They play off each other magnificently in movement and verse and the effect is uproarious. Matt Austin and Steve Stott are worth the price of admission.

     Without the hand of a seasoned director for this play there would be twelve men and one young woman stomping around the stage in chaos. Alicia Dempster brings her thirty years of theatre experience to bear in the direction of this play guiding this capable cast and delivering a laughter filled evening of theatre.

     The set is simple, yet unique transporting us from the deck of a ship to an island and the clever use of rope and string gives us doorways, a berth below deck, even a malicious grinning crocodile.

     Since its publication in the early 1900’s, J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan has delighted children and adults alike. If you’ve ever wondered how Peter Pan arrived in Neverland, was able to fly, stayed a boy and encountered Captain Hook this play provides those answers and you’ll be laughing all the way home.

Peter and the Starcatcher at TheatreWorks New Milford runs March 10, 11, and 12. Fri. and Sat. at 8:00pm, Sunday at 2:00pm. For more info. go to www.theatreworks.us or call 860-350-6863.

Theater Review by Mary Hembree

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