By Rick Elice
Based on the novel by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson
Music by Wayne Barker
Movement by Steven Hoggett
Directed by Roger Rees & Alex Timbers
At the Bank of America Theatre, Chicago
Long and confusing story suffers despite terrific efforts by the Chicago based cast of young talents
Peter and the Starcatcher by Rick Elice, winner of 5 Tony’s, is a two and a half hour comedy that is well staged filled with manic movement, some songs, terrific Foley art as it tries a tad too hard to explain, in excruciating detail, how Peter Pan became the boy who never grew up in Peter Pan. This prequel is an over-written adventure comedy that features a dozen actors including one female in a valiant attempt to make us laugh and love the wacky characters who eventually inhabit Neverland.
This ambitious comedy is long, too long on story with too much detail and subplots. It attempts to be a funny, laugh fest while also being an adventure story in the best Victorian traditions of the 1880’s. But, the early scenes failed to hook us into the story rendering the show a tiresome affair that confuses more than engrosses. Once we turn-off the show, it is difficult to re-engage us. There is simply too much going on that is hard to swallow thus many of the patrons around me dozed off.
With some cuts (a least a half an hour) and a stronger, clear plot the quickly gets us to care would serve the show well. What saves the show are the terrific, manic and honest heartfelt performances by the cast that includes several Chicago actors. The group of eleven guys and one girl work hard to please but they simply have too much ground to cover. There are many cleverly staged scenes with many laughs.
What makes Peter and the Starcatcher possibly worth seeing are the work from the young Chicago talents. Harter Clingman (Alf), Nathan Hosner (Lord Aster), John Sanders (a hoot as Black Stache) – these actors anchored the show. While Megan Stern, as Molly, lead the way for the boys, it was the charming, often charismatic, and fully heartfelt honest turn by Chicagoan Joey deBettencourt that made the otherwise tedious show palatable. Debettencourt, in his first Equity role, commands the stage ias a cute yet plausible boy who eventually emerges as Peter Pan. We do believe that he is the boy who’ll never grow up. Audiences will understand why casting directors come to Chicago to tap into our deep talent pool for national tours. This is a ‘star-making’ role for Joey deBettencurt – he is worth seeing.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: April 3, 2014
For more info checkout the Peter and the Starcatcher page at theatreinchicago.com
At the Bank of America Theatre, 18 W. Monroe, Chicago,IL, call 800-775-2000, www.broadwayinchicago.com, tickets $18 – $85, Tuesdays at 7:30 pm, Wednesdays & Thursdays at 2 & 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8pm Saturdays at 2 &8 pm, Sundays at 2 & 7;30 pm, running time is 2 hours, 35 minutes with intermission, through April 13, 2104