Saturday, April 21, 2012

Peter and the Starcatcher, or, Why Isn't There a Tony for Best Ensemble

I must admit, I had reservations about how an intimate show like Peter and the Starcatcher would play on Broadway. It was a perfect fit (though not a perfect show) at the New York Theatre Workshop, but not much has been lost in the move to the Brooks Atkinson Theatre and in fact, the play is stronger and more cohesive than it was off-Broadway.

Peter and the Starcatcher, about how an orphan boy became Peter Pan, is based on the book series by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Directors Roger Rees and Alex Timbers use theatricality in the most magical way, where a person can be a door or a wall and an actor can levitate without wires. What bothered me off-Broadway was the disconnect between the more touching parts of the story and the juvenile humor (Rick Elice wrote the book). This time, the show felt more of a whole, though I still think there are too many anachronistic jokes.

But what remains true is that Donyale Werle's set is brilliant (if you see it, take some time to look at the details in the proscenium before the show), as is every person in the cast. Of course, the standout is Christian Borle, delightfully chewing the scenery as Black Stache, the man who would become Captain Hook. But before he puts on his mustache, he doesn't pull focus, blending perfectly into the ensemble.I've never understood why there isn't a Tony Award for best ensemble, and if this show doesn't make a case for it, I don't know what does. And while we're at it, let's give it an award for its logo.

Photo credit: O & M Co.

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