BEDFORD Peter Pan couldn’t always fly. And his name was not always Peter Pan.
Those are just a couple of the revelations in “Peter and the Starcatcher,” the charming fantasy-comedy with music that presents itself as a prequel to the better known “Peter and Wendy,” by J.M. Barrie.
“Peter and the Starcatcher” is playing at Onstage in Bedford.
Presented with an abundance of energy and panache, this thoroughly well-planned and well-executed production more than does justice to this show, which enjoyed a short run on Broadway a few years ago after playing off-Broadway. It was adapted for the stage by Rick Elice from the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, with music by Wayne Barker.
The story told in “Peter” is concerned with giving the titular character his name and super powers. It further introduces us to the younger, two-handed version of Captain Hook, and explains some of the obsessions that will drive those characters (and others) when they show up in the other Peter Pan story we all know so well. It is filled with all the magic and whimsy of its source material, packaged with a snarky, updated sense of humor.
A lot of backs are to be patted in this production, starting with those of director Ashley H. White and choreographer Michael Albee. White’s staging is highly creative and imaginative in every regard, and Albee does a superb job of making things move within that world.
Both are aided by an excellent set by Alex Krus that seems simple at first glance, but which takes on several new lives through the fanciful use of props and staging. And the colorful lighting design by Onstage artistic director Michael Winters also adds a lot to the look and impact of the show.
A lot of first-rating acting is on display. Leading that parade are Shane Strawbridge, as the ridiculous pirate captain Black Stache (he will be Hook later), and Dani Holway, as our spunky heroine, Molly.
Strawbridge succeeds because he so gloriously and shamelessly camps up a part that cannot be overplayed (try as he might). Holway carries the day by fully realizing her role of a lovely lass devoted to Queen and country, and by serving as the glue that holds this delightfully messy story together.
Also outstanding are the young actors who play orphans Peter (Chapman Blake), Ted (Jeremy Coca) and Nathan Salter (Prentiss). Blake stands out a bit in that trio because he carries the heaviest load, but all three do the sort of solid work that makes you look forward to what they might do with future roles. Joe Messina, as Smee, and Nik Blocker, as Molly’s nanny, Mrs. Bumbrake, also have plenty of fun with their ultra-comic characters.
The only flaws in this presentation, which is the Tarrant County premiere for this show, are some weakness in the supporting cast and some vocal parts that fail to impress. But there is not a single player who fails to give a total effort in this adventure-filled romp, that abounds with physical comedy and groan-inducing puns.
Taking on a show this large and complicated was an ambitious move for this amateur company. But they absolutely made this “Peter” grow wings.