(Review by Tulis McCall)
When is a rope not a rope? Answer: When it is a doorway, a window, an ocean wave, a ship’s rail and oh, yeah, when it is used to tie up hostages. I guess it is a rope for the latter, but by the time it is used that way, you have forgotten that it’s a rope to begin with.
And this is all quite, quite good.
For those of you who were ever children, welcome to your show of shows. This is the prequel to Peter Pan and answers the burning question of: how did that kid land on that island and never grow up? The answer is inventive and touching and mostly hilarious, and you will want to see it for yourself.
But here’s a bit of information. There is this stuff, see, called Star Stuff, and in the wrong hands it is dangerous. Star Stuff has the ability to turn people into what they WANT to be, not necessarily what they SHOULD be. So it could turn people into tyrants, or monsters, or Tea Party members at the drop of a hat. There is a trunk load of this Star Stuff that must be taken from Victorian England to the land of Rundoon, where Lord Aster (Rick Holmes) will dump it into a volcano. As a decoy there is an identical trunk of sand that will travel on another ship. Aster’s daughter Molly (Celia Keenan-Bolger) an apprentice Starcatcher (read person of great importance) will travel on one ship, the Neverland, and her father on the other, the Wasp.
When the Wasp is intercepted by pirates, headed by Captain Black Stache (Christian Borle), who is villainous and campy and apparently an ancestor of Groucho Marx, things, as well as the ships themselves, take turns for the worse. Stache is after what he believes to be treasure, and the Asters are sworn to protect the Star Stuff until it can be disposed of. The dye is cast and confrontation ensues!
Caught in the middle of this ruckus are three orphan Boys who are LOST – get it? They are Prentiss (Carson Elrod), Ted (David Rossmer) and Boy (Adam Chanler-Berat) who is so lost that he doesn’t have a name at first, but the moniker Peter Pan will find him before the night is out. They join forces with Molly, who assures them that she is their best bet as well as being the best leader because she is the best at everything, period.
Soon there is a shipwreck on an island where the facts tumble out faster than a cornucopia gone mad on vaudevillian wine. This author, Rick Elice, never waits for anyone to get the puns or the references to Peter Pan, but fires them point blank into your smiling face. The croc gets the clock, the Stache prepares to become Hook and Neverland is born. Parry, thrust and voila!!
This show is precariously close to children’s theatre, which is fine with me because I know the deep dark secret about this genre. Children’s Theatre has to be smart enough for parents to sit through. Think about the story of Peter Pan for instance. What adult doesn’t know it? And who doesn’t clap their hands on occasion to prove that they believe?
This brilliant cast is choreographed into being everything from a forest to a giant crocodile using the simplest of tools and their own belief in the magic of theatre. They are like a theatrical marching band moving in and out of formation. This is way more than sleight of hand – this is sleight of entire company.
The children watching this show nearly jump out of their skins with excitement, and the adults are swept away by the memories of childhood fantasies that are not buried as deep as one might imagine. This is a story filled with true adventures and maddening disappointments that are coupled with hidden rewards. Molly becomes a bona fide Starcatcher, but she must leave Peter. Molly will grow up and Peter will remain a boy. Both get what they want, but it is at the cost of separation from one another. Molly will have a daughter, Wendy. Peter will acquire a new tiny twinkling best friend in Neverland who bestows upon the formerly lost Boy this directive: FLY!!!!
He does, we watch him, and we are not far behind. Not far at all.
Ben BRantley for NY Times
"Beaming with dizzy humor and delightful stage magic, Broadway’s “Peter and the Starcatcher” is a big dipperful of fun."
Joe Dziemianowicz for NY Daily News
"The show is briskly and inventively directed by Alex Timbers and Roger Rees. ... But this wouldn’t be enough for Broadway without the tour-de-force performance by Christian Borle."
Elisabeth Vincentelli for New York Post
"Clever and joyous entertainment... should be in the Broadway skies for many a season"
David Sheward for Back Stage
"'Peter' and company fly high."
Roma Torre for NY1
"Proved to be a magical show last spring at New York Theatre Workshop. ... Some of that charm is missing, unfortunately, from the Broadway version of the show."
Michael Sommers for Newsroom Jersey
"In scaling up from a theater seating less than 200 to one with a capacity of around 1,000, the show’s larkish pantomime spirit has become strained."
David Rooney for The Hollywood Reporter
External links to full reviews from popular press...