How Peter became Pan

Peter and the Starcatcher flies in to Dayton

By Joyell Nevins

Photo: “Peter and the Starcatcher” comes to the Schuster Center June 9-14

Do pirates and buried treasure capture your imagination? Do you want to know what it feels like to fly? Then get ready for your imagination to soar in “Peter and the Starcatcher,” the final show in the 2014-2015 Premier Health Broadway Series, brought to Dayton in partnership with the Pioneer Theatre Company of Salt Lake City, Utah. Unlike many shows that come through with a touring group, this particular cast is “recongregating” to put on this show just for Dayton (a plus for cast member and Cincinnati native Howard “Howie” Kaye).

And what a show it is—“storytelling theatre,” according to Kaye. The actors gather on the stage, sometimes talking directly to the audience, and never taking a backstage break. Between the 12 of them, they cover more than 100 different characters.

“It’s a challenge, but it’s the good kind of challenge,” Kaye says. “As an actor, you get to dive in.”

Kaye, whose own career started when he was 12, working with Ohio great John Kenley, is joined by actors and actresses whose credits include work in regional theatre companies, off-Broadway, Broadway, national tours, television and even London’s West End. The cast is looking forward to working with one another and getting to perform “Peter” again.

“Something about hearing a kid laugh – it gets in your blood,” Kaye says.

Kaye says the show is a “very theatrical” piece and requires its watchers, regardless of age, to delve into their imagination. Scenes and locations are conveyed mostly through lighting, actor placement and clever prop usage.

“You really do use your imagination,” Kaye says. “There’s no ship on stage, but you’ll see the ship!”

The story is based on the novel series by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson of the same name. Just as Wicked takes you behind the scenes of “The Wizard of Oz,” this show tells the tale behind the tale of “Peter Pan.” Audiences will find out how Peter goes from a ragamuffin orphan to the immortal Peter Pan.

“The show answers questions you never knew you had,” Kaye says.

“Peter and the Starcatcher” revolves around the adventures of Peter (soon to be called Peter Pan), and Molly, a girl charged to protect a parcel of stardust. This stardust can let a child float in air or freeze him in time. The young orphan Peter and his mates are dispatched to an island ruled by the evil King Zarboff. They set sail aboard the Never Land, a ship carrying a precious and mysterious trunk in its cargo hold, and the journey quickly becomes fraught with excitement and danger, including run-ins with the villainous Black Stache. Magic, romance and comedy abound. “Peter” originally opened on Broadway in 2012 and won five Tony awards: Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role; Best Sound Design; Best Costume Design; Best Scenic Design and Best Lighting Design.

“It’s an awesome, awesome play,” Kaye says. “It’s really fun to do.”

“Peter” is meant to be a family show, and it appeals to kids and adult kids alike (although the Victoria Theatre Association notes it is most enjoyable for those ages 10 and up due to some fast-paced and sophisticated dialogue). The play incorporates many different writing styles, and moves along at a fast pace. And in the beginning of the second act, Kaye hints to a section where everyone is a mermaid—one of the cast’s favorite parts of the show.

“You’ve gotta see it to believe it,” he says.

“Peter and the Starcatcher” runs from June 9-14 at the Mead Theatre in the Schuster Center, 1 W. Second St. Times are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, and a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets range from $25-97 and are available now at Ticket Center Stage, located in the Wintergarden of the Schuster Center, by phone at 937.228.3630, 888.228.3630 and online at ticketcenterstage.com. For more information, please visit peterandthestarcatcher.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Joyell Nevins at JoyellNevins@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Joyell believes in the power of the written word, a good cup of coffee, and sometimes, the need for a hug (please, no Tommy Boy references). Follow her on her blog “Small World, Big God” at swbgblog.wordpress.com or reach her at joyellnevins@daytoncitypaper.com

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