The adult prequel to the famous story of “Peter Pan,” the Tony-award-winning play “Peter and the Starcatcher,” will be performed tonight at the Power Center. With more music, more tech and more collaborations, the University of Michigan’s Theatre Department is prepared to take the audience on a new kind of journey.
The story beings with an orphan named Boy, soon to be named “Peter.” He and a few other orphans set sail on the ship titled “The Neverland.” On this voyage, Boy meets Molly, the daughter of the Starcatcher Lord Aster. He and Molly discover a mysterious treasure chest which they soon learn cannot fall into the lap of evil pirate captain Black Stache.
“This story involves rich and fabulous characters,” director and School of Music, Theatre & Dance professor Gillian Eaton said in an interview. She said the original story of Peter Pan was written among other “outrageous stories of adventures” that all involve “children and danger.” With 300 individual props, a small pit orchestra and an intricate set, this has been one of the most demanding performances the theater department has put on.
“We are the Theater department, not the Musical Theater department,” Eaton said. But as a play with musical scores, it became “a wonderful challenge for the actors.”
One of the stage managers, LSA Senior Jacqueline Saldana, added that cross departmental collaboration is an intense accommodation they have had to incorporate, especially among lighting, props and costuming.
With new opportunities for the actors and a tech-heavy show, Peter and the Starcatcher can be considered a “simple, old fashioned story with modern technology,” assistant student director Marty McGuire, an SMTD Sophomore, said.
For cast members the experience of preparing for this performance has been unique for several reasons:
“This is different from any other show I’ve done while at Michigan. It’s an opportunity to explore something new with my classmates, and it means a lot to be able to create this exciting world with them.” — David Newman, an SMTD Junior who plays Lord Leonard Aster
“The best part about Stache is that he sometimes cares more about proving to the audience that he’s the ultimate villain over the other characters on stage, breaking the forth wall like it’s his job,” SMTD Junior Jeffrey Fox, who plays Black Stache, said.
“Everyone (the cast) is always engaged in enhancing the audiences experience of the story we are telling,” SMTD Senior Sten Eikrem, who plays Robert Flacon Scott, said.
“Molly’s deep duality is what makes her so enjoyable to play. Her faith in humanity and her youthful ignorance is still very alive.” SMTD Senior Kourntey Bell, who plays Molly Aster, said.
“Playing Peter has been an amazing experience,” SMTD Junior Brooks Inciardi, who plays the Boy/Peter, said. “I’ve been thrown around, dropped off mountains and flown. J.M Barrie, the author of ‘Peter and Wendy,’ said it best when talking to a group of actors before opening their play for the first time: ‘All you need is to adorn yourself with the spirit of a child.’ That is what I do every night and what I hope the audience will leave with.”
In our interview, Eaton, McGuire and Saldana got to the root of why this show puts itself in its own category. They discussed childhood adventure –– that feeling of living life on the dangerous side. Eaton looked out to the set stage and asked, “Remember how you would dream of flying?”
And I did. Smiling, I reminisced about the time I asked my Mom for a Wendy nightgown for my birthday, and then another one for Christmas. She would ask me why my room was so clean, and I told her that I wanted it to be spotless for Peter Pan when he came to the window.
The inner child in me lit up as the actors deeply discussed this performance, the concept of taking chances and the reason why Peter and the Starcatcher is performing here on campus. It is made for the audacious kid that is still deep within all of us, itching to experience one more journey while we are still young.