About the Play
Molly is a starcatcher* apprentice on a parallel secret mission with her father, Lord Aster, who is taking one ship to a secret location to dispose of the precious starstuff+ so as to keep it out of the hands of evil forces. Molly is on a safer, slower ship to the same destination. Starstuff is powerful stuff and has transformative powers that can alter a person for good or bad, depending on their deep desires. A band of pirates – who believe Lord Aster is actually transporting jewels and other riches for the queen – commandeer his ship. But a switch of identical trunks on the dock has placed the precious cargo on the ship which Molly is now sailing. We meet the boy who became Peter Pan and some orphans who’ll be among the Lost Boys. The band of pirates are led by the notorious Black Stache who we will learn is to become the even more famous Captain Hook. Swashbuckling pandemonium, a heaping dose of magic, and madcap comedy are spread throughout liberally.
Peter and the Starcatcher by Rick Elice is based on the Peter and the Starcatcher’s children novels co-written by humorist Dave Barry and suspense writer Ridley Pearson. It’s the grownup’s prequel to J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, carefully putting in place all the elements which Barrie cemented in the original story, Peter and Wendy, including the ticking crocodile, how Peter Pan’s home got the name Neverland, how Tinkerbell came to be, and how a boy never grew up and learned to fly.
Peter and the Starcatcher premiered at the La Jolla Playhouse in California on February 13, 2009. The production featured music from Wayne Barker and was co-directed by Roger Rees. The play moved Off-Broadway to the New York Theatre Workshop in 2011 and on April 15, 2012 it opened on Broadway in the Brooke Atkinson Theatre. After 319 performances it moved back Off-Broadway, closing January 12, 2014.
Peter and the Starcatcher received the Tony Award, Lortel Award, Tina Award, and Drama League Award for Outstanding Play. It also was nominated for Best New Play in the very first year of the Off-Broadway Alliance Awards.
Elice, in an interview with Broadway.com discussed the integration process in writing the play with the modern children’s books and Barrie’s style. “I wanted to try to merge the contemporary, irreverent tone of Dave and Ridley’s novel with the style employed by J.M. Barrie a hundred years earlier for the original Peter Pan. Barrie used high comedy and low, alliteration, puns, broad physical gags, songs, even meta-theatrical anachronisms, to reel in his 1904 audience. Then, he’d deliver sentiment so deftly that the end of the play breaks your heart. My challenge would be to write this new play in such a way that it merged the two disparate styles, but also connected the dots between the now-mythic characters and plot points of the original with Dave and Ridley’s reboot.”
About the Production
“When I was a boy, I wished I could fly” – the illusive childhood dream that is at the very heart of Peter and the Starcatcher. Director Brad Carroll remembers not only wishing, but actually trying to fly – “I’d leap off the porch rail with an umbrella in my hand, pretending to be Mary Poppins. And I’d sail out of a swing with a towel tied around my neck, believing I was Superman! It’s a wonder I survived! And yet pretending and believing was what it was all about. Curiosity. Imagination. Belief. Ah, the magic of being a child!” It is that same magic that makes Peter and the Starcatcher such a unique theatrical adventure.
In this age of technology, a great deal of theatre has come to rely upon impressive spectacle as a primary feature – falling chandeliers, battles in mid-air over the audiences’ heads, giant set pieces appearing and disappearing through the use of elevators, turntables and hydraulic systems. The creators of Peter and the Starcatcher offer an antidote to these kinds of presentations and, in doing so, invite us to “be a child” again simply by activating our curiosity, engaging our imagination and believing. Carroll says, “It’s theatre stripped down to its very essence – twelve actors, a backdrop and some props creating nearly a hundred characters and dozens of locations. Three musicians provide musical accompaniment and all of the sound effects. And the beauty is: this style of old-time, low-tech stagecraft ends up being highly theatrical. I think it’s a type of theatre that many members of our audience may never have experienced before.”
The production uses elements of Victorian drama, modern comedy, vaudeville, British music hall, including some wildly anachronistic references as well as special moments of homage to Charles Dickens, Walt Whitman, William Shakespeare and, of course, J.M. Barrie. Carroll describes the play as “part 19th century romantic adventure and part Warner Brothers cartoon. And when these two vastly different styles meet, an unexpected sort of magic happens! There are scenes of beautiful, touching sincerity followed by scenes of dizzying wordplay and absolutely wacky humor. It honestly has something for everybody!”
And, as in all the great fairy tales, at the heart of Peter and the Starcatcher is a story of self-discovery – recognizing your true self, the essence of who you really are, and learning what that means in relationship to others and to the world at large. It is the one great journey we all have in common – the journey of “growing up.” “I find the underlying message incredibly empowering for young people,” says Carroll. “Be who you are. Follow your bliss. If you want to be a “starcatcher,” go for it! There will be obstacles and successes and failures and rewards, but don’t give up. Stay in the game. Catch that star!”
In their acknowledgments in the novel, the authors write: “And above all we thank Paige Pearson, for asking her daddy one night, after her bedtime story, how a flying boy met a certain pirate.” The curiosity and imagination of a child have inspired a new, wildly inventive and richly entertaining adventure tale – a boy before he could fly and a captain before the hook.
About the Authors
Rick Elice earned his MFA from the Yale Drama School and is a Teaching Fellow at Harvard. He is a charter member of the American Repertory Theatre and from 1982 –1999 he was copywriter, producer, Creative Director and eventually Executive Vice President of Serino Coyne, Inc., an entertainment advertising agency in New York producing ad campaigns for more than 300 Broadway shows including A Chorus Line and The Lion King. Elice went on to work for Walt Disney Studios from 1999–2009 as Creative Consultant.
Broadway writing credits include Peter and the Starcatcher which was nominated for nine Tony’s winning five Tony Awards, The Addams Family (co-writer with Marshall Brickman), and Jersey Boys (co-writer with Marshall Brickman) which received a Tony Award nomination. The Warner Brothers’ movie was directed by Clint Eastwood and released in 2014. Elice also co-wrote (with Roger Reese) the thriller, Double Double. In 2008 his play, again co-writing with Marshall Brickman, Turn of the Century, was produced and directed by Tommy Tune. It premiered at the Goodman Theatre, Chicago. Elice wrote the book for the new musical Dog and Pony - music and lyrics by Michael Patrick Walker - which had its world premiere at The Old Globe in San Diego in June 2014, and was directed by Roger Rees.
Elice is currently working on a play set near the end of the disco era around Studio 54 as well as a musical about the first man who attempted to climb Mount Everest.
Wayne Barker: composer. Peter and the Starcatcher earned Barker a Tony nomination and a Drama Desk Award. Other credits include: Composer/Music Arranger, Clue: The Musical; Composer, All About Me co-written by Christopher Durang; Dance Music Arranger, After the Night and the Music written by Elaine May and produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club; Composer/Music Arranger/Lyricist, Dame Edna: Back with a Vengeance. Regional Theatre credits include: The Primrose Path, The Great Gatsby (Guthrie), Twelfth Night and The Three Musketeers (Seattle Rep). TV: A Little Curious. Other: Mark Bennett’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (orchestrations), Chicago City Limits, The Raymond Scott Orchestrette, orchestras worldwide. Upcoming: Let Me Live!
Dave Barry: is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author of more than two dozen books, most recently I’ll Mature When I’m Dead. Along with Ridley Pearson, he is the co-author of Peter and the Starcatchers, Peter and the Shadow Thieves, Peter and the Secret of Rundoon, Peter and the Sword of Mercy, and Science Fair. Their newest collaboration is The Bridge to Never Land. According to the davebarry.com, “Dave Barry has been a professional humorist ever since he discovered that professional humor was a lot easier than working. For many years he wrote a newspaper column that appeared in more than 500 newspapers, and generated thousands of letters from readers who thought he should be fired. Despite this, Barry won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. One of Barry’s columns was largely responsible for the movement to observe International ‘Talk Like a Pirate Day,’ which is observed every year on September 19.” He has over 30 books to his credit.
Ridley Pearson: co-author of the Peter and the Starcatchers series with Dave Barry, is the award-winning author of the Kingdom Keepers series. He is the recipient of the Raymond Chandler/Fulbright Fellowship in Detective Fiction at Oxford University and received the Quill Award from the Missouri Writers Hall of Fame. Ridley has also written more than twenty-five best-selling crime novels. He is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, penning more than 48 novels in both suspense and young adult adventure genres. He has played bass with the Rockbottom Remainders, a band comprised of published authors – including Dave Barry, Stephen King, Scott Turrow and others; hailed by critics as having “one of the world’s highest ratios of noise to talent.”
(n) an individual appointed by her majesty the Queen of England to dispose of
Starstuff so people with evil intentions are unable to use it.
(n) dust that falls from shooting stars and possesses incredible magical properties.