Review: Spiritual prequel to ‘Peter Pan’ elicits laughter, tears

Review: Spiritual prequel to ‘Peter Pan’ elicits laughter, tears

“Peter and the Starcatcher,” the Theatre and Performance Studies department’s first main-stage production of the spring semester, ran for seven performances at the Onyx Theatre last week.

The cast of 13 TPS majors — ranging from second-semester freshman to seniors graduating in May — brought laughter, tears and a sense of wonder to KSU.

The show had many familiar characters, though several were referred to by different names. The dreaded Captain Hook is renamed Captain Black Stache, and, for the first half of the show, Peter is referred to simply as “the boy.”

Throughout the show, the audience witnessed several key moments that pushed the characters into their places for the traditional story we all know. We learned how Peter got his name, and we watched him meet Captain Black Stache for the first time and understood how they became mortal enemies. We saw Tinker Bell being born, and we learned why that mischievous little boy doesn’t grow up.

The story — written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson and adapted for the stage by Rick Elice — stayed remarkably close to the original tale by Sir James M. Barrie. The show only noticeably differed from the canon of the book a few times.

The production overall was upbeat and interactive, with characters routinely breaking the fourth wall by speaking and handing props to the audience. The theatre staff cautioned viewers to keep their bags under their seats due to actors bounding around all areas of the performance space. The staff told attendees about the audience interaction and pointed out the best seats to either avoid the participation or to be right in the thick of it.

For anyone who has ever loved the story of “Peter Pan,” this show was remarkably emotional. From the beginning, 13-year-old Peter is friendless, orphaned and mistreated by all the adults in his life. He is beaten by the headmistress of his orphanage, almost sold into slavery by Bill Slank, a vicious sailor, and shown love by no one.

However, as the show goes on and Peter meets his new friend, Molly, he slowly becomes the free-spirited and fun-loving boy we know.

Sophomore Cameron Walker played this transition for Peter perfectly. When he first faced off against Black Stache, played by senior Tad Cameron, the audience got a glimpse of the more familiar version of the main character. The quick witty banter in this scene allowed Walker to come alive as the boy we now know as Peter Pan.

Cameron and senior Meg Harkins, who played Bill Slank, acted out some of the funniest banter in the show. Their crude hilarity provided more than just comic relief. In my opinion, it pretty much made the show.

The experience was not only emotional for the audience, but for the cast as well.

Sophomore Alyssa Egelhoff, who portrayed Molly, said that she enjoyed acting in her second show at KSU.

“This experience has been one of the most challenging and rewarding processes I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of,” Egelhoff said.

Walker attributed the success of his performance to the faculty members who guided him.

“This is my first year here at KSU, and I am already learning so much from every single person I encounter,” Walker said. “Going into the rehearsal process, I was a little nervous, but thanks to professors like [director] Karen Robinson and [text/dialect coach] Jan Wikstrom, I became aware that all the work we do here is a part of the learning process. I need to trust myself a lot more with the work that I do!”

The TPS department will next produce “New Works and Ideas: Don Quixote Ugly,” which will run in the Onyx Theatre Feb. 23 and 24.

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