Monday, April 16, 2012

Peter and the Starcatcher

The delightful Peter and the Starcatcher, the Story Theatre-esque prequel to Peter Pan,  is now on Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre (my review of the Off-Broadway production at the New York Theatre Workshop is here). As with any move from a smaller to a larger theatre, the first question is, how did it survive the move?

Pretty well.

On one hand, the show has retained its high spirits, silly jokes, and excellent cast. On the other hand, it has not been restaged sufficiently to reach the sides of the theatre--that is, entire bits (very funny bits!) that occur center stage aren't visible to a chunk of the audience due to some of the cast standing in the way. Also, the Brooks Atkinson has some seats that are just too far to the side to begin with; in addition, Peter and the Starcatcher has added a proscenium to the existing proscenium, further limiting the view from the sides. This is unfortunate because Peter and the Starcatcher is so much fun that you don't want to miss a second of it.

Luckily, Peter and the Starcatcher comes to Broadway retaining its most important asset: the fabulous Christian Borle. (Many thanks to the otherwise-dreadful TV show Smash, on which Borle appears, for making it possible for him to stay with Peter.) As the somewhat-pathetic villain Black Stache, Borle reminds me of Kevin Kline in The Pirates of Penzance, which is serious praise indeed! His slapstick is elegant and perfectly timed, and he raises empty bluster to an art form. Kudos also to Celia Keenan-Bolger for her lovely turn as Molly, the Starcatcher-in-Training. Her heartfelt performance provides the show with the emotional anchor that makes it more than just excellent fluff.

Peter and the Starcatcher is a treat for children (fart jokes) and adults (Ayn Rand jokes), and it uses theatre's unique strengths to provide an experience that could not be equaled on TV or in a movie. (Okay, I would shave about 15 minutes from it, but otherwise . . .)  It's a wonderful starter show if you want to introduce your kids to theatre, and it's a delight for someone who has seen dozens, even hundreds of shows.

(press ticket, 4th row, audience right, three seats from the aisle)

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