|the Peter and the Starcatcher ensemble (photo by Dan Norman)|
|Megan Burns as Molly (photo by Dan Norman)|
In a serendipitous (and perhaps intentional) twist of casting, Tyler Michaels reprises his role as Peter Pan, whom he played in the Children's Theatre's marvelous production a few years ago. But this is a very different Peter, a broken and hurting Peter who only wants love and a family, two things he's lived without his whole life. It's really fun to watch Tyler in that transformation from lost boy to hero, even striking the familiar hands-on-hips pose as he comes into his own. Tyler always imbues his characters with a specific physicality, and the nimble boy Peter is a perfect showcase for his unique talents.
But Tyler is by no means the only star in the show, in fact they're all stars, none less so than Megan Burns, who is perfectly delightful as our spunky heroine Molly. She just shines from the stage, with a natural charm and great energy as she plays this wonderful role model of a young woman who's smart, determined, kind, and knows how to get things done.
|Pearce Bunting as Black Stache and|
Tyler Michaels as Peter
(photo by Dan Norman)
The music is integrated organically into the script, and is often sung a capella or with minimal accompaniment by the cast beating on various objects on the set, or Silas Sellnow on various stringed instruments. On a few songs an offstage piano can be heard, presumably played by Latte Da's resident Music Director Denise Prosek. Because the music is woven seamlessly and sparingly into the story, there are no annoying applause breaks to interfere with the spell being cast.
As he often does at the Jungle, director Joel Sass has also designed the set, making for a beautiful cohesion in the production. The proscenium arch is decorated with all sorts of flotsam and jetsam (I think I recognized a few pieces from Joel's equally inventive Great Expectations at Park Square last year), while the trunks, a ladder, and the frame of a tiny room are constantly moved on and off the stage with intricate and perfectly executed choreography. Unlike the Broadway production, in which the second act looked markedly different from the first, the island set is mostly the same as the ship set, but with a tropical blue-green color projected on the backdrop (lighting design by Marcus Dilliard). Sonya Berlovitz's shabby chic costumes complete the look of the design.
Theater Latte Da is not doing a "Broadway Re-imagined" project this year, but Peter and the Starcatcher fills that hole. It was already re-imagined on Broadway, meaning the kind of innovative low-tech physical theater style of storytelling rarely seen on Broadway. This makes it the perfect Broadway show for Latte Da to put their unique spin on, and the smaller theater and smaller cast really suits the piece and offers even more opportunities for creativity, which this terrific cast and creative team have capitalized on perfectly.
Peter and the Starcatcher continues through February 26 at the Ritz Theater in Northeast Minneapolis. It's a thrill for children of all ages, even those of us devoid of starstuff who have been forced to grow up.
*Plot summary adapted from what I wrote about the Broadway tour.