About Peter and the Starcatcher
Multiple 2012 Tony Award-winner Peter and the Starcatcher is a postmodern prequel to J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, based on the 2006 novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Like the book, the show is meant to engage teens and young adults with familiar pop cultural references while capturing the irresistible whimsy of youth beloved by grown-ups. Singing pirates, a plucky heroine and a strong storyline evoke much of what audiences loved when flying orphan Peter Pan first stole our hearts and imaginations many years ago.
Set during the reign of Queen Victoria (though referring to everything from Starbucks to Ayn Rand), the play’s look is intentionally handmade and its theatrical effects are almost entirely created by the directors (Roger Rees and Alex Timbers) and actors. Where other productions rely on high-tech wizardry, Peter and the Starcatcher relies on high-flying imagination and good old theater craft: Tinkerbelle is a series of flashlights; a wall with doors is actually several actors in a line with their backs to the audience (who then transform quickly into parts of the scene when pulled out of line); and our levitating heroine is hoisted by a charmingly low-tech plank and seesaw. The story offers all the elements of the best bedtime stories—pirates, shipwrecks, singing mermaids and heroes—as well as unexpected takes on the origins of Peter Pan and Captain Hook (originally named “Black Stache” when his most prominent feature was facial). But it’s the brazen theatricality, and perhaps a little magic, that allows the audience to soar in the rafters with Peter.
The show begins with and often returns to a chorus of actors as storytellers. There are two ships, two mysterious boxes, three orphans, Lord Aster—“Starcatcher” and guardian of the Star Stuff—his daughter Molly, her nanny Nanna and a bunch of pirates. Boxes get switched, Asters get separated, and orphans get mistreated, but they’re used to that. In one of the boxes is Star Stuff, which Lord Aster is planning to throw into Mount Jalapeño because it is too dangerous to mankind. The pirates think the box is full of Queen Victoria’s diamonds, so they take Lord Aster prisoner. One of the orphans, known only as “boy,” is smitten with Molly and inspired to become a man of action to help her get the Star Stuff safely to her father.
Accompanying the actors is the Tony Award-winning sound design, mainly performed by two versatile musicians in the balcony boxes. The costume design, also Tony winning, works with the set to create a world of fluid silliness and joyful Victorian mish-mash.
Two hours and 15 minutes (including one intermission)
Smart and sarcastic kids, adults with playful imaginations, and lovers of vaudeville and British Panto will enjoy the show’s sensibility. As Wicked is to Wizard of Oz, so is Peter and the Starcatcher to Peter Pan.
Good for kids?
Most kids and their parents should enjoy this play, though it may be appreciated more fully by older kids and younger adults.
New World Stages Location Information:
340 W 50th St.
New York, NY 10019
C, E to 50th St.; 1 to 50th St.
Preview Peter and the Starcatcher on Broadway
Watch Molly and the orphans decipher a “Norse Code” message in this clip from the hilarious and theatrical Peter and the Starcatcher.