(This review is written by American-Statesman freelance arts critic Cate Blouke.)
It’s a rare gem of a play that can delight audiences ages six to 60. Usually, when the show can charm a pre-adolescent, the ticket-buying adult is making some concessions regarding quality of entertainment.
But “Peter and The Starcatcher,” a fanciful backstory for Peter Pan playing now through March 1 at Zach Theatre, manages to make the experience engaging for all ages.
This is likely due in no small part to the source text: a young adult novel written by humorist Dave Barry and children’s adventure novelist Ridley Pearson.
Rick Elice’s adapted script is peppered with Barry’s witticisms but the show nevertheless caters to both crowds: pirates and magic for the kiddos paired with all sorts of delightful pop culture Easter eggs for adults. With references ranging from cell phone commercials to pop music to Ayn Rand, those jokes will fly over the heads of the youngsters but hit home for the adults in the crowd. And the malapropisms of Black Stache (J. Robert Moore) alone are almost worth the cost of tickets.
As the dastardly and flamboyant villain, Moore couldn’t be more fabulous. With a commanding stage presence and ridiculous lip foliage, he’s hilarious and charming. Toby Minor (Smee) serves as an excellent sidekick and comic foil, and Martin Burke (Mrs. Bumbrake) shines as always (even when they’ve got him in a dress).
Michael McDonald’s costuming has everyone on stage looking good, especially in the amazingly sparkly mermaid number that opens the second act. And Jamie Goodwin’s (Lord Leonard Aster) flowing locks are absolutely marvelous, as is the talented actor’s performance.
The ensemble is excellent, with everyone pitching in to fill narrative flashbacks by donning multiple personas. Luke Lindsteadt (Prentiss) stands out in spite of his minor role as a Lost Boy, and Sara Burke’s (Molly Aster) charisma is infectious as she takes command of the boys.
It’s easy to see why the show was a hit on Broadway and won a slew of Tony’s. It offers a lot of room for hilarity and pizazz even if it only has a handful of musical numbers.
On opening weekend, however, the cast struggled somewhat to catch their stride in terms of comedic timing. The early parts of the show dragged a bit when the audience wasn’t quite in sync with the humor, but things began to mesh just before intermission, and the second act was absolutely stellar in spite of some microphone mishaps.
“Peter and the Starcatcher” continues through March 1 at Zach Theatre. Tickets $25-$73. www.zachtheatre.org