PETER PREQUEL: Audiences get the backstory to ‘the boy who would not grow up’

Aug 29 • ARTSY SMARTSY, FEATURE MAIN, Theater, UncategorizedNo Comments on PETER PREQUEL: Audiences get the backstory to ‘the boy who would not grow up’

The life leading up to some of our favorite characters are explored in many ways in literature, film and onstage. Take “Wicked,” for example: showcasing the lives of the witches before “The Wizard of Oz.” A few years ago, Disney’s “Maleficent” revealed the backstory to the antagonist in the famed “Sleeping Beauty” fairy tale. Today, we have the magical story of “Peter Pan” receiving its prequel in the Tony-winning “Peter and the Starcatcher,” based on the 2004 novel of the same name by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, adapted for the stage by Rick Elice. Its Wilmington debut will make it to Thalian Hall’s stage Wed., Aug. 30, at 8 p.m., produced by Opera House Theatre Company.

PETER AND THE STARCATCHER CAST: Joe Basquill, Randy Davis, George Domby, Jeff Phillips, Marlon Ramos, Sam Robison, Kenneth Rosander, Heather Setzler, Jamey Stone, Emilia Torello, Eddie Waters, and Jordan B Wolfe. Directed by Jason Aycock.

PETER AND THE STARCATCHER CAST: Joe Basquill, Randy Davis, George Domby, Jeff Phillips, Marlon Ramos, Sam Robison, Kenneth Rosander, Heather Setzler, Jamey Stone, Emilia Torello, Eddie Waters, and Jordan B Wolfe. Directed by Jason Aycock.

“I’m a huge fan of Peter Pan,” director Jason Aycock tells. “One of my prized possessions is a first edition of ‘Peter and Wendy’ from 1911.”

“Peter and the Starcatcher” opened Off-Broadway in 2011, moved to Broadway on 2012 and closed in 2013, before going back Off-Broadway and running through 2014. Aycock familiarized himself with it last December in the Broadway theater archive in New York and loved the story immediately, as it shows audiences life of the little boy before he became Peter Pan, as well as his gang of cohorts, from The Lost Boys to Captain Hook and other pirates—even revealing a few mermaids along the way. The story of youthful reverie still remains at its thematic core.

“The boy in this story is not the happy adventuresome child we know from ‘Peter Pan,'” Aycock explains,  “but through this story we see how he gets to that point, and it has just as much humor (subtle and overt) and just as much bittersweet heart you feel when you finish the original JM Barrie tale.”

Not one of the show’s characters is a lead, per se. In fact, the play is a complete ensemble piece featuring 12 actors who act as leads and supporting ensemble—and sometimes all at once in the same scene. “The show is formatted very much like the RSC’s original version of ‘Nicolas Nikelby,’ in that not only are these actors the characters of Peter, pirates, The Lost Boys, etc.,” Aycock explains, “but they are narrating their story. So it gives the audience their inner monologue, the exposition, and sometimes the dramatic irony of what the audience knows will come to be as well. It’s been fun to direct because all 12 of these people are giving it their all; I know they’re invested, which makes me want to up my game.”

Aycock is creating the world with the help of Terry Collins turning the Thalian stage into an adult playground, including a false proscenium decorated with records, plastic silverware, toys, and the like. Dallas Lafon is designing the lighting, with Juli and Selina Harvey covering the wardrobe with English school uniforms, island native wear and fun wigs coming into play. Lorene Welsh will lead the orchestra, with John DeVeaux in charge of sound.

“The music in the show (which is less than a true musical but more than just a couple of songs) has a very similar feel and message,” Aycock notes. “As adults we see so much good, bad, up, down, right and wrong in every single situation but, in a child like way, each day is another adventure and some of them are awfully big. The end of Act 1 is called ‘Swim On’ and it’s about that adventuresome spirit, overcoming obstacles and doing something good!”

encore interviewed a few cast members about the characters they play and what they’re taking away from the roles…

 

SAM ROBISON
e: Who are you playing?
SR: Lord Leonard Aster, minister to Her Majesty Queen Victoria and widower’d father of Molly (the future mother of Peter Pan’s Wendy).

e: What makes the character a one-of-a-kind in your opinion?
SR: What’s great is I get to be five of a kind… including pirate, narrator, and dangerous but hilariously strange jungle island native, to name a few.

e: How will your character connect with children and adults alike?
SR: As Aster, I am the father. As narrator, I see and comment on the nearing transition to adulthood. As all the other characters, I am as silly as a nine year old boy. It’s great!

e: What’s your fave line and song in the show and why? How does it represent a defining moment and what would you say is that defining moment?
SR: There’s a scene where Peter Pan is given his surname by the accidentally enchanted inhabitants of Mollusk Island. It is a singular moment of tingling goosebumpery that hits me right in the feels every single time we do it. There are some truly magical moments in this show.

e: How is this show personally impacting you with its message?
SR: Everyone has to grow up. We all have moments when we feel the sobering shadow of imminent change creep up behind us. But we all harbor the fantasy that we can hold on to that fleeting innocence. Maybe for a second. Maybe, like Peter, for forever. That is the intoxicating dream at the core of this show that makes it so wonderful.

 

JEFF PHILLIPS

e: Who are you playing?
JP: Black Stache (the “Captain Hook” character)

e: What makes the character a one-of-a-kind in your opinion?
JP: His gleeful delight in being bad.

e: How will your character connect with children and adults alike?
JP: I think that they will revel in his fun. The deeper idea is that we are all just looking for ways to connect with people. That’s what Black Stache is trying to do by trying to find his “ultimate nemesis.”

e: What’s your fave line and song in the show and why? How does it represent a defining moment and what would you say is that defining moment?
JP: To Peter: “Consider the possibilities. Foes forever. Adversaries ad neverendum. I’m talking books, movies, BROADWAY!”

e: How is this show personally impacting you with its message?
JP: It is a coming-of-age tale about how one boy comes into his extraordinariness. I think it playfully challenges us to be willing to accept and grab on to what to makes your extraordinary.

 

EMILIA TORELLO
e: Who are you playing?
ET: Molly Aster

e: What makes the character a one-of-a-kind in your opinion?
ET: Molly has a very clear idea of who she is and who she wants to be even though she is only 13. Molly is smart, strong, fearless, and incredibly stubborn. She always fights for what she believes is right.

e: How will your character connect with children and adults alike?
ET: Unlike Peter, Molly has to grow up. I think children and adults can relate to her in the sadness that she will be separated from Peter and have to grow up without him, but also appreciate how beautiful and fulfilling her life will be because she actually gets the opportunity to do so.

e: What’s your fave line and song in the show and why? How does it represent a defining moment and what would you say is that defining moment?
ET: My favorite line in the show is,”No, it’s supposed to hurt, that’s how you know it meant something.” I think it makes hurting seem less negative and more beautiful. If it hurts, it’s because you cared, and caring will never be a bad thing.

e: How is this show personally impacting you, with its message?
ET: This show is very close to my heart. I find all the characters inspiring, and the way the show is set up is so witty and clever and beautiful. It makes you think that maybe never growing up isn’t as glamorous as it may seem. I mean, think of all the things Peter will never get to do. It makes me appreciate life more and be more grateful for the experiences I have already had and the ones that are yet to come.

 

DETAILS
Peter and the Starcatcher
August 30 – September 3, 8-10, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m.
Tickets: $32
Thalian Hall • 310 Chestnut St.
www.thalianhall.org

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