Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Seattle

Peter and the Starcatcher
ArtsWest Playhouse
Review by David Edward Hughes

Also see David's reviews of The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge and Disney's The Little Mermaid


The Cast
Photo by John McLellan
Peter and the Starcatcher has, near as I am aware, only played here when a national tour landed at the Moore two seasons ago. Local wunderkind actor/director Eric Ankrim turns out to be just the man for the job, infusing the storytelling with even more laughs and richer characterizations than the tour had up its billowing sleeves.

Adapted by playwright Rick Elice from the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson with original music by Wayne Barker, Peter and the Starcatcher provides a humorous and fantastical backstory for the beloved character of Peter Pan and his arch-nemesis Captain Hook. In this wickedly imaginative play, we meet a poor orphaned child on the high seas simply called Boy because, in the absence of a mother and a father, he was never given a name. His sad and lonely world is turned upside down when he meets Molly. The daughter of famous starcatcher, Lord Astor, our heroine is on a mission to save the world and protect a treasure trunk filled with magical star stuff from getting into the hands of evil and greedy pirate Black Stache. As they travel aboard the Neverland ship headed for a faraway land, Molly and Boy learn about love and friendship as they forge an unbreakable bond.

As Boy/Peter, Trent Moury has a good grasp of the role, his Peter being more childish than childlike, pouty, free with his fisticuffs, and a soul who keeps his inner heartbreaks and abandonment issues under lock and key. Aly Gutierrez is a real find as Molly, effortlessly capturing the nuances of portraying a much younger girl with believability, and combining an adventurous spirit with an underlying tenderness. The show-stealing role of naughty nanny Mrs. Bumbrake is masterfully interpreted by Nathan Brockett, with just a dash of the kind of low-class sultriness of Angela Lansbury as Sweeney Todd's people-popping pie-maker Nellie Lovett.

Saxton Jay Walker earns a "4 Argh" rating as the slinky sea-captain Black Stache, John Han is wholly likable as a foodie named Ted, Brian Lange is a smirking delight as Smee, and Ryan McCabe is appropriately stiff and stuffy as the stiff and stuffy Lord Aster. The balance of the cast is all at home with Ankrim's smoothly broad style of directing and staging the minor but merry musical bits. And a lot of sustained energy and rough around the edges comic zeal is on stage in the form of ensemble members Mikko Juan, Patrick McDermott, Kirby McDermott, Patrick Ostrander, and Bryce Smith.

Julia Welch's deceptively ramshackle set is an actor's playground for an audience to savor, with inspired lighting design by Tristan Robertson and imaginatively scattershot costumes designed by Siri Nelson. Music direction by Rob Scherzer and Eric Ankrim is smoothly handled and the show definitely benefits from the occasional lift from the musical score.

Peter and the Starcatcher recently extended its run through December 27, 2016, at ArtsWest Playhouse, 4711 California Ave SW. For tickets or information contact the ArtsWest box office at 206-938-0339 or visit them online at www.artswest.org.


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