Live theater returns to the College of Marin’s James Dunn Theatre with Peter and the Starcatcher. Based on the book series by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, the script by Rick Elice is a reimagined back story for Peter Pan. The Elena Wright-directed production runs through Oct. 15.
On the docks of Victorian London, an orphan without a name (Dominic Canty) and his two friends, Prentiss (Audrey (Dani) Daniel) and Ted (Dalton Ortiz), are sold into slavery on the Neverland, a ship captained by the nefarious Bill Slank (Karim Al-Jamal).
Meanwhile, Lord Aster (Cyrus Thelin) and Captain Scott (Zane Speiser), on a secret mission from Queen Victoria to guard a trunk, are boarding the Wasp. To keep his daughter Molly (Alexandra Fry) safe, Aster puts her and nanny Mrs. Bumbrake (Michara Lang) on the Neverland, where Bumbrake immediately falls for Alf (Adonis Reyes).
Unbeknownst to them, the Wasp’s been infiltrated by infamous pirate Black Stache (Grisha Driscoll) and his right-hand man Smee (Cassie Nesbit), who want the trunk. However, thanks to Slank, the trunk is really aboard the Neverland! A storm, mermaids and spear-wielding locals later, all the characters find themselves on an enigmatic island with a magical lagoon.
This play is a good choice for college theater. It allows for fun tech and spectacle, and requires a large cast, all elements this production utilizes. Sadly, this show is short on clarity. Words are mumbled, mic levels seem untested and songs start disharmoniously. This cast needed and deserved a firmer hand with a clearer vision.
That isn’t to say that the show isn’t worth watching. There are some good performances. Fry’s Molly is very sincere, and Thelin’s turn at Mermaid showcases a refined singing voice. Lang’s Bumbrake is energetically fun, and Ortiz makes for a loveable Ted.
There are also some great performances. Canty is well-cast as the titular Boy Peter. Driscoll shows professionalism and talent as Black Stache. Reyes’ Alf is probably the most realized of all the characters. Proving that there really are no small parts, Reyes is consistently truthfully grounded and elevates all his scenes.
The work these students put in is worth supporting. With no charge for admission, there isn’t a reason for the theater to be as empty as it was at the opening performance I attended. Kids will enjoy the silliness, and parents will enjoy the nostalgia of a fun Pan without the problematic racism of the Barrie original.
‘Peter and the Starcatcher’ runs through Oct. 15 at the James Dunn Theatre at the College of Marin, 835 College Ave., Kentfield. Friday-Saturday, 7:30pm; Sunday, 2pm. Free. Donations welcome. 415.485.9385. pa.marin.edu.