If you’ve ever wondered how Peter Pan got to Neverland, along with all those pirates and mermaids, this is the show for you. I kept an eye on the kids in the audience of the Sunday matinee of Peter and the Starcatcher, and I think it’s safe to say they thoroughly enjoyed this origin story. This smoothly run production just extended its run through the end of December, and has just the right amount of slapstick to keep kids entertained (yes, there are fart jokes), but enough adult references to keep the grownups laughing too. The book the play is based on was written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, so the humor could only be expected, but the orphaned Lost Boys and thoughts about family and home make for some bittersweet moments as well.
Despite there being only one female cast member, Aly Gutierrez, the show has good feminist undertones and should appeal to girls and boys alike. The cast pulls really well together as an ensemble, but Rob Scherzer’s clowning and musical talents stand out. It’s clear the large cast has the show down pat, never missing a beat in the word play, rhymes, and tunes sprinkled throughout or the creative moments when cast members double as props. I found the fast dialogue a little hard to follow in parts, but the diction and storyline remained clear. The direction by Eric Ankrim and design by Julia Welch and Andrea Spraycar are excellent.
The director writes that the show tries to capture “the spirit of freedom, the limitless power of hope and joy, and the endless possibilities inside our own hearts and mind,” and I think they’ve succeeded. This is a great show to see with family over the holidays, though some mildly scary parts might require some hand-holding for very young audience members.
ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery present Peter and the Starcatcher, by Rick Elice directed by Eric Ankrim at 4711 California Ave. SW, Seattle, WA, 98116. Nov. 17- Dec. 30, Thurs.-Sun. Tickets: Artswest.org