Swordplay Turns To Wordplay As The Rep Treats Us To “Peter And The Starcatcher”

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Spencer Davis Milford as Peter “hangs out” with Molly (Betsy Hogg) in “Peter And The Starcatcher” at the Rep. Photo: Jerry Naunhem, Jr.

In the prequel to “Peter Pan,” we see how dropping one letter can turn the standard swordplay on a pirate ship into wordplay as puns, spoonerisms and jokes galore make this fantasy fantastic. The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis brings us the enchanting and laugh-out loud funny “Peter And The Starcatcher” for their holiday offering.

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Peter and his boys bond with Fighting Prawn during the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis production of “Peter And The Starcatcher.” Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.

We learn how Peter, the charming Spencer Davis Milford, goes from orphan boy to his famous Peter Pan appellation thanks to the outspoken and precocious Molly (who is the starcatcher from the title), played with wit and a bit of panache by Betsy Hogg. These two make a wonderful couple and sparks begin to fly almost immediately when they meet.

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Jose Restrepo as Smee and Jeffrey C. Hawkins as Black Stache in “Peter And The Starcatcher” at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.

Peter is hanging out with his rascally troupe of boys, Ted (played by Andrew Carlyle) and Prentiss (Sean Mellott) when Molly enters his life. Daughter of Lord Leonard Aster, a stern but loving Clinton Brandhagen, Molly already knows she’s smarter than most and uses it to her advantage. Also along for the ride is Jose Restrepo as the faithful sidekick, Smee and Arturo Soria as villainous Bill Slank and the clever Fighting Prawn (don’t ask- just go see for yourself).

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Arturo Soria and Jeffrey C. Hawkins provide some interesting swordplay during “Peter And The Starcatcher” at the Rep. Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.

Stealing the night is Jeffrey C. Hawkins as the conniving Black Stache- not the precursor to Blackbeard, but rather the future Captain Hook. We find out how he really lost that hand in the second act with the only bad scene in the show. For some reason, either the author or the director decided to go the way of the old “dinner theatre” routine and have the actors do fake break-ups during this otherwise hilarious bit. It’s a shame because both the actor and his great delivery is enough to carry this outstanding scene.

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Two ships, two trunks- which has the treasure? Find out at the Rep’s production of “Peter And The Starcatcher.” Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.

The rest of the cast also gets into the spirit of the tongue-in-cheek look at the early days of Peter including Natalie Morgan Fisher, Jesse Munoz, Andy Patterson and Nick Vannoy. The second act opening number is worth the price of admission. A better dancing and singing chorus you’re not likely to find anywhere- and what costumes!

Playwright Rick Elice is responsible for this madcap tomfoolery while Wayne Barker provided the music. Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson provided the original novel based on the J. M. Barrie classic. Director Blake Robison keeps the action moving full tilt and the combination of one-liners and serious groaners keeps the audience on their toes. It’s a classic based on a classic.

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Spencer Davis Milford as the boy who will become Peter Pan in “Peter And The Starcatcher” at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.

The simple, sweeping set design by James Kronzer fits right into the fun and those David Kay Mickelsen costumes are a hoot. Kenton Yeager provides appropriate mood lighting with Matthew M. Nielson’s sound and orchestrations and a special nod to Casey Sams as movement coach.

This is really a great time and it truly bears a second and maybe even a third viewing as things- especially the smart and witty dialogue- move fast. “Peter And The Starcatcher” plays at the Rep through December 27th. Contact them at 314-968-4925 for tickets or more information.

 

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