by Patrick B. McGuigan
An entertaining and tuneful banquet for eyes and ears, the new CityRep collaboration with OCU’s School of Theatre is solid fun. “Peter and the Starcatcher” is Rick Elice’s award-winning Broadway hit, adapted from the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.
As Boy, OCU student Jordan Jacobs is an apt choice – a lonely orphan maturing through trial and triumph into one of the most iconic figures in all of literature. In this rendering of Peter Pan’s back-story, Olivia Cinquepalmi (also an OCU student) is Molly, and there’s a reason she might remind us of Wendy from the original stories. The birth of affection between the pair is sweet and believable.
CityRep professionals are generous and spot-on with their time and energy, allowing the younger set ample opportunity to shine on the Burg Theatre stage.
Andi Dema is superb in several parts, most memorably as leader of a band of lost Italians on the island we know as Neverland. Ever-reliable Steve Emerson renders one of his finest comedic turns as Mrs. Bumbrake and a teacher-turned-mermaid.
Hall Kohlman is wondrous as Lord Aster, loving father of Molly and loyal subject of Queen Victoria (“God save her”). His friend Captain Scott, portrayed so well by Marcellus Hankins, take us back to a time of British confidence, audacity and compassion.
As a thinner and considerably more youthful version of pirate-in-training “Smee,” Matthew Alvin Brown is solid. Scott Hynes (Slank), Nicholas J. Reese (Prentiss), D. Lance Marsh (Alf) and Nick Plasko (Ted) are memorable in this ensemble, each having moments of his own star-catching.
Speaking of the ensemble, they revel in the story and deliver every penny’s worth and more for the paying customers. There is a never a moment of “going-through-the-motions.”
This is live theatre comedy at its best.
Chewing the scenery with bold humor and no hint of decorum is Jonathan Beck Reed as “Blackstache.”
Let’s just say the seasoned veteran anchors the story and gives the part quite a “hook.”
Director Michael Jones delivers a solid evening of entertainment that manages to combine respect for the source material with a “this is now” spirit of youthful frivolity. The story has many levels, and it is by turns raucous and sentimental. Jones pull cast, crew and narrative through the series of dizzying shifts with professional panache.
There is no way to describe the opening number of Act II, after a shipwreck leaves the crew of the “Neverland” lost on a mysterious island. You’ll have to see that number to believe it.
This is a complex show that uses simple outlines, ship models, ropes and cast athleticism to evoke vast oceans, dramatic landscapes, the dark of night and the hope of dawn. Jones’ stewardship of the product is full ratification of his outstanding national reputation as a guide to performers.
Four performances remain for this endearing “prequel” (rated PG-13 or thereabouts) to the legend of Peter Pan. Friday (September 25) at 8 p.m., Saturday (Saturday 26) at 2 p.m. (matinee) and 8 p.m., and a closing matinee at 2 p.m. on Sunday (September 27). Check it out at CityRep.org or telephone 405-848-3761. The Burg Theatre (2501 N. Blackwelder) on OCU’s campus is ideal for this production.
As the earth turns and the weather shifts, the final weekend of this excellent production is an ideal opportunity. Use this time to secure a memory that will warm the heart and bring a smile to the face on the cold days ahead.
Don’t miss “Peter and the Starcatcher.”