The Hippo


Nov 20, 2019








The cast of Peter and the Starcatcher. Courtesy photo.

Peter and the Starcatcher 

Where: Janice B. Streeter Theater, 14 Court St., Nashua
When: Friday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 11, at 2 and 7 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 12, at 2 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 17, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 18, at 2 and 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 19, at 2 p.m.
Admission: $12-$17
Contact:, 886-7000

Peter Pan prequel
Peacock Players present Peter and the Starcatcher

By Kelly Sennott

 Even if you’ve seen Peter and the Starcatcher before, chances are good you haven’t seen it like the Peacock Players’ rendition at the Janice B. Streeter Theater — mostly because the play’s young characters are actually played by kids.

“I think we have a luxury in the fact that our leading characters are actually the ages they’re supposed to be,” said Artistic Director Keith Weirich before a recent rehearsal. “In the script, there are two 13-year-olds onstage who are sharing their first kiss, and it’s incredibly endearing when they’re actually 13-year-olds, as opposed to 20-something-year-olds pretending to be 13.”
Peter and the Starcatcher is like a prequel to the famous story by J.M. Barrie, explaining how Peter Pan became a lost boy in Neverland who could fly, and how Captain Hook got his name. It’s written by Rick Elice and was on Broadway April 2012 to January 2013, but it’s based on the 2006 novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Weirich said Peter and the Starcatcher is to Peter Pan what Wicked is to The Wizard of Oz.
“It reminds me a lot of the humor in Wicked because you already know ... where the result is headed,” said Weirich, who saw both the Broadway and Winnipesaukee Playhouse renditions of Peter and the Starcatcher.“I was blown away with it. It’s so clever, so funny. Theatrically, it’s very inventive.”
They play requires audience members to use their imaginations, starting with the set, which comprises “nautical rubble” — ropes, ladders, umbrellas, fishing nets, boards, life preservers, crates — that the 18 teen actors manipulate to create the scenes. In fact, cast members are never offstage. If they’re not in character, they’re standing in place to represent more complicated structures or inanimate objects. 
“We don’t really have a set,” said Jakov Schwartzberg, who plays Black Stache (who eventually becomes Captain Hook). “I’ll play a door in one scene, and then in the next scene I’ll play my character Black Stache or a sailor on one of the ships. … That’s the fun part and also the most difficult part of the show because it’s nonstop. In most shows, when you’re done your scene, you get a break, but in this show, when I’m not in my [major] scene, I’m in another scene as a different character.”
Together, the kids perform as 100 different characters, all of whom are aware of the fact they’re in a play. Everyone narrates. 
“The characters will snap out of the show and say to the audience, ‘Pretend this cat is flying!’ And it is clearly just being held up by a string. It breaks through the fourth wall a lot,” said Aren Truex, who plays Peter.
This presents difficulties for the direction, too. 
“I have a fairly healthy ego about directing some days, and this one has been a humbling experience,” Weirich said. “It’s difficult to pre-visualize and even more difficult to actualize. … The real challenge to is it there are so many locations, so many characters.”
The kids said it’s very funny; Schwartzberg said he was really enjoying playing Black Stache.
“Black Stache in this show has a very particular mix of both absurd humor and also strangely intellectual humor,” Schwartzberg said. “He spends the entire show not being able to pronounce simple words. He calls a ‘beach’ a ‘butch.’ He calls a ‘stage’ a ‘stooge.’ And then he references Philip Glass, saying, ‘It’s as elusive as the melody of a Philip Glass opera.’”

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