Peter and the Star Catcher – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Are you ready for an adventure on the high seas? Do you have the courage to face a brigade of dangerous pirates and defend the honor of your queen, Queen Victoria? It is the year of our lord 1885 and it is time to stand up and be counted. West Hartford’s Playhouse on Park has a sterling journey planned until Sunday, October 14 when the ships The Wasp and The Neverland sail majestically into port at 244 Park Road.

The plot seems simple enough: make sure the Queen’s treasure, secured in a trunk, arrives safely on the island of Rundoon. The Queen appoints a trustworthy Lord Aster (James Patrick Nelson) to accomplish this mission. To safeguard its success, Lord Aster puts the real treasure on the speedy Wasp and a decoy trunk of sand on the slower Neverland, and he sends his precious and precocious daughter Molly, an invincible Natalie Sannes and her governess Mrs .Bumbake (Colleen Welsh) to accompany it,

Before you can say “Polly wants a pirate “ three times, a nefarious bloke Captain Slank (Thomas Daniels) switches the trunks and puts the real chest aboard his vessel, the Neverland. He also secludes a trio of orphans (Brianna Bagley and Nick Palazzo) as well as The Boy, a plucky Jarad Starkey, who is destined to become the lad who never wants to grow up, Peter Pan.

Based on a novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, in a play by Rick Elice, with music by Wayne Barker, “Peter and the Starcatcher“ is the prequel to the tale of Peter Pan. Prompted by Elice’s son who asked his dad, “How did Peter Pan get his name?”, this intriguing tale ventures into the origins of our favorite orphan lad who refuses to become an adult.

Long before Peter Pan flies into the bedroom of the Darling children, there were many adventures in his life. To learn about a young Peter, who didn’t even have the privilege of a name and was known simply as The Boy, travel straight to Playhouse on Park to make his acquaintance and discover his fascinating and complicated history.

But what happened before Peter Pan and Wendy meet? A dozen talented actors will create over a hundred different roles, with a minimum of fuss and props, from pirates to villains, mermaids to Molly, clearly the courageous and self assured heroine.

Molly will need all her knapsack of tricks, including her magic amulet and her storehouse of mystery languages she shares with her dad, when she encounters the true villain of the tale, one Black Stache, the clever and temperamental outlaw captured by Matthew Quinn. who will later be known as Captain Hook. Come discover how he earns that moniker. Watch how director Sean Harris juggles pirates and mermaids, a search for starstuff, storms at sea, tribes of Mollusks, hungry crocodiles, ukulele singing sirens and sword fights in a delightful and inventive way. Also entertaining are Miss Sandra Mhlongo as Stache’s right hand man Smee, James Fairchild as a late in life love interest Alf, Nicholas Dana Rylands as a quickly overcome Captain Falcon Scott and Elena V. Levenson as a bevy of intriguing personas on land and on sea.

For tickets ($35-50), call Playhouse on Park at 860-523 -5900, ext. 10 or online at Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. followed by a talk back with the cast.

Let your imagination and creativity fly far and wide as this extravagant storytelling experience unfolds before your amazed eyes.

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