Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Connecticut and the Berkshires

Peter and the Starcatcher
Playhouse on Park
Review by Zander Opper | Season Schedule

Also see Zander's review of Make Believe

Photo: Jared Starkey (center) and Cast
Photo by Curt Henderson
Playhouse on Park is currently presenting a fanciful and amiable, if sometimes muddled production of Peter and the Starcatcher. As written by Rick Elice, based on a novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, with music by Wayne Barker, the play aims for the skies, and at times reaches it, but too often this production feels earthbound. Part of the problem is that Peter and the Starcatcher, which is a kind of riff on the story of Peter Pan, is extremely plot heavy, which weighs down the piece when one wants it to soar.

The hardworking and talented company of actors do their considerable best to keep the play aloft, and there are definitely key moments when this production is everything you would want it to be, but the airiness cannot be sustained. As an impressive tale of how the myth and legend of Peter Pan came to be, fans of Peter Pan may want to see it, but Peter and the Starcatcher at Playhouse on Park is really a mixed bag of a production. This is most unfortunate, for many of the lead roles have been cast extremely well, and director Sean Harris tries to keep things moving continuously. Perhaps it is the plot that is at fault—there is quite a lot of story to tell—for too many scenes feel bogged down.

To mark the highlights of the show, one need look no further than Jared Starkey, who is everything one might ask for in the role of Boy. Starkey is fresh faced and light on his feet; he summons up completely the spirit of Peter Pan. Joining him is the wonderful Natalie Sannes as Molly, an ideal stand-in for the character of Wendy.

In another key role (one that won Christian Borle a Tony Award in the Broadway production), the lanky and animated Matthew Quinn plays the character of Black Stache. Quinn is quite good, as far as he goes with the part, but it almost seems that Black Stache (who is, in essence, the precursor of Captain Hook) should be even more of a presence onstage (there are lines in the second act that talk about scenery chewing, and it seems that this character should be doing more of that). As Smee, Miss Sandra Mhlongo is entirely reliable throughout, and the rest of the cast does its best in keeping this show on the go.

On David Lewis' imaginative set, the action is definitely fast moving, with multiple scenes often happening at the same time. Kate Bunce provides ideal costumes, with Joe Beumer's lighting design completely in harmony with the work of his fellow designers.

Though there are moments where the show just feels too plodding and heavy, when this production succeeds, as it does in the final scene, it goes far toward making up for the times when it gets bogged down. It's a shame that more of this presentation doesn't reach those heights.

Peter and the Starcatcher, through October 14, 2018, at Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Rd, West Hartford, CT. For tickets, please visit or call the box office at 860-523-5900.

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