Peter and the Starcatcher by Rick Elice is a real oddball, with a separate style in each act. Act one has some brilliant physical staging by Steven Hoggett, with synchronized movements, abrupt stops and quick light changes in time with the movements, creating a stylized world. Act two sticks with the story of Peter’s evolution with none of that action style.
You know what it’s about -- How did Peter become Pan? It starts with the cast showing a lot of cuteness, and they are quite conscious of it.
The story is full of childish silliness, farting and vomiting jokes, and there are Dickensian scenes. The pirate chief is fey, gay and Hey Hey, and is played with dash and panache by a most delightful Christian Borle. Celia Keenan-Bolger, a charming elf, as the sole woman in the cast, carries the show with a sense of reality that must be hard to sustain with all the fol-de-rol going on around her. She’s terrific. All in all, it’s a very silly play, very well directed by Roger Rees and Alex Timbers.
I do have a question about casting – the Lost Boys don’t look like boys. They look like rather large grown men, which, for me, cuts into the necessity to rescue them. And I don’t think someone the size of this Peter could get liftoff. Borle could have flown without wires.
The costumes, some of them outrageous (as in the drag mermaids scene that starts Act Two) by Paloma Young, are sometimes inspired, on Donyale Werle’s imaginative set. They could leave out a long, silly telling of “Sleeping Beauty.” There is awfully good background music, and a couple of songs, by composer Wayne Barer that lift the proceedings.
For the grownups, there are Pythonesque incongruities, literary references, political references, and touches that dip into our memories, that the kids won’t get. For the kids, there is plenty of childishness to keep them entertained.