Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
Peter and the Starcatcher
Also see Cindy's review of Dreamgirls
A phantasmagorical take on what morphed a lonely boy named Peter into Peter Pan, the tale unfolds at breakneck speed, thrillingly directed and choreographed by Patrick Fitzwater and performed by an ace dozen performers. One should, ideally, leave all reason in the lobby and revert to one's early formative years to embrace the magic of the story. As the circus ringmaster used to cry, "for children of all ages." Thus is Starcatcher.
Having never wondered how Peter became Pan, I initially felt a certain wariness. The second I laid eyes on Michael McLain's terrific set, I was, ahem, "Hooked."
By using household items (a plunger, a kitchen timer, lots of ropes, etc.), Fitzwater and his team of speedy troubadours take us on a magical trip to Neverland. On first viewing, it's not the easiest to follow. The overlong act one has exposition to spare and it can become tiresome, with several actors screaming at such high velocity, they are rendered unintelligible. Several key plot points might be lost. The guilty parties continue their high-pitched yelling, but in act two I was reminded of the follies in Follies so I was not concerned. The sight of 12 "mermaids" consisting of 11 guys and one girl is one you will never forget. The audience falls in love, en masse. This is just one of several numbers that spring from the libretto and make perfect sense (don't ask me how).
The juiciest role is that of Black Stache, and Clay Cartland makes a delicious 10-course dinner out of the scenery. Wonderfully. Cartland is as adept at using his body language as he is at cocking an eyebrow or delivering an absurd ad lib. His energy and attentiveness to detail elevates act one as soon as he becomes the character. Equally outstanding is Cameron Jordan as Stache's factotum, Smee. Blessed with a gorgeous voice and a million kilowatt smileand most importantly, a sly way of underplayingthese two gents have the time of their lives and it is blessedly contagious.
However, the standout performance is Noah Levine, playing the en travesti (sort of) Mrs. Bumbrake. Looking like the illegitimate progeny of Stan Laurel and Dick Van Dyke, Levine is priceless as the gal who falls for the beyond sexy Ben Sandomir's Alf. The chemistry is there as is their obvious affection for each other. When Mr. Levine dons a mop-like wig and the best Scottish accent, he ... well I'm not going to add a "spoiler" but it is, for me, the highlight of the evening. Krystal Millie Valdes is the high-pitched Molly and the leads round out with adorable Jordon Armstrong as naïve and trusting Peter. All actors deserve mention. Congratulations to Andrew Rodriguez-Triana, Joseph Pino, Robert Fritz, Matthew Korinko, Johnbarry Green and Corey Vega.
Technical credits are sparkling: Rick Pena's rightly ragged costumes, music director Anthony Campisi, sound designer Rich Szczublewski brilliantly juggling I have no idea how many sound cues and sound effects, and atmospheric lighting beautifully crafted by Jose Santiago. The Abdo River Room, while lovely, poses difficulties vis a vis sound and lighting and these two gentlemen work wonders.
Based on a children's novel, and with a plethora of inside theatrical jibes quips and ad libs, Peter and the Starcatcher is, as I said earlier, for "children of all ages." My solo spoiler? Be prepared to be charmed.
Peter and the Starcatcher, in the Abdo River Room of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through November 26th, 2017, 201 SW 5th Avenue, Ft. Lauderdale FL. For tickets and information, call 954-462-0222 or visit slowburntheatre.org or www.browardcenter.org