Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

Peter and the Starcatcher
freeFall Theatre
Review by William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's review of A Motown Christmas


Kelly Pekar and Lucas Wells
Photo by Alison Davis Photography
freeFall Theatre offers the area premiere of Rick Elice's Peter and the Starcatcher, based on the novel by Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry. The play has delighted audiences first Off Broadway, then on Broadway and now at multiple regional theaters this year. It is a great choice for the holiday season with strong appeal to families. The play is dense with plot, full of anachronisms to delight adults and swashbuckling adventure for all, as we learn how a nameless orphan became first Peter and then Peter Pan. What the two-hour play does offer is lots of opportunities for exciting theatrics, a specialty of this theater company.

As always, Artistic Director and director Eric Davis makes the most of the physical set-up, serving up a lively production. However, the performance is not always well paced, some episodes fly by so fast that details are lost, and other scenes slow things down so much that they become a tad dull. This problem may be inherent in the script.

Mr. Davis gets the most of his young cast, especially Lucas Wells as The Boy, Kelly Pekar as Molly Aster, and Chris Crawford offering a lesson in star turns as Black Stache (he chews so much scenery that I was told they had to build three versions of the sets). He is aided and abetted by Craig Sculli as sidekick Smee. Nick Lerew adds to his body of fine work at this theater playing Slank, and Daniel Schwab offers a fine performance as Lord Leonard Aster. Bonnie Agan as Mrs.Bumbrake and Christopher Rutherford as Alf add dimension to the story as an older romantic couple. Chris Metz as Ted and Taylor Simmons as Prentiss are The Boy's sidekicks while Clinton C. H. Harris in a variety of roles, notably a hilarious take on Grempkin the leader of an Island tribe, and Chris Jackson as Captain Scott complete the cast.

The technical elements of the production are all first rate. Costumes by Eric Davis (the man has so little to do otherwise), set design by Charles Murdock Lucas, and lighting by Mike Wood combine to enhance the theatricality. Fight director Blake Braswell has his hands full, as there are multiple melees during the story. I was seated on the stage left side, so I had a great view of musical director Michael Raabe, assisted by Burt Rushing on percussion, playing music by Wayne Barker. It is impossible not to notice the joy Mr. Raabe brings to each performance.

Peter and the Starcatcher is proving to be a popular production for freeFall—many performances have limited availability—so plan now to see this fun family friendly production.

freeFall Theatre Company presents Peter and the Starcatcher through December 24, 2015, at 6099 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg. For ticket and performance information, visit www.freefalltheatre.com.

Cast: (in order of appearance)
Mrs. Bumbrake: Bonnie Agan
Black Stache: Chris Crawford*
Grempkin, Mack, Sanchez, Fighting Prawn: Clinton C. H. Harris*
Captain Scott: Chris Jackson
Slank, Hawking Clam: Nick Lerew*^
Ted: Chris Metz
Molly Aster: Kelly Pekar*^
Alf: Christopher Rutherford
Lord Leonard Aster: Daniel Schwab*
Smee: Craig Sculli*
Prentiss: Taylor Simmons
The Boy: Lucas Wells*
*=Member of Actor's Equity Association
^=Resident Company Member

Director: Eric Davis
Musical Director: Michael Raabe
Scenic Designer: Charles Murdock Lucas*
Costume Designer: Eric Davis
Lighting Designer: Mike Wood**,Br>Assistant Lighting Designer: Ryan Finzelber
Technical Director: James Zervas
Fight Director: Blake Braswell
Production Stage Manager: Susan Haldeman*
Assistant Stage Manager: Timothy Saunders*,Br>Master Carpenter: Matt Davis
Props Masters: Erica Goldman, Timothy Saunders
Scenic Painters: Allison Davis, Mary Reischmann
Technical Assistant: Trenten Szabo
**=Member of United Scenic Artists Local USA-829 of the IATSE


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