If you’ve always wanted to know how Peter Pan grew up to be the Boy Who Would Not Grow Up, this is your chance: Come see the Middle School production ofPeter and the Starcatcher on Fri. Feb. 8 at 4pm and 7:30pm, and Sat. Feb. 9 at 7pm in the Pearl Street Meetinghouse. (Tickets are free but you’ll need to reserve them here).
Peter and the Starcatcher serves as a high seas prequel to the story of Peter Pan, who in this incarnation finds himself recently orphaned and on a ship called Neverland. There he meets Molly, who is on a mission to save a treasure trunk filled with secret “star stuff” from the marauding pirate, Black Stache. Banding together, Peter and Molly defend themselves and their treasure while learning about devotion, friendship, and love. Based on the 2004 novel, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, the work was conceived for the stage by Roger Rees and Alex Timbers, with book by Rick Elice, and had its Broadway debut in 2012.
Seventh grader Zachary R., who had a featured role in the fall musical, plays the title role of Peter. He is joined by 35 fellow actors, supported by a crew of 14.
“I wanted to do something that was like a lighthearted romp,” says Director Lorna Jordan. “In the Heights (the fall musical) was super heavy with difficult material – there were some really big themes. [This is] super silly and super goofy. It’s traditionally done by a smaller troupe of actors. Because we tend to have 40 kids audition for the show and I don’t cut kids from Middle School shows — considering it takes so much courage and guts to get up there and audition — I always cast everybody. So I thought, ok, I can cast anyone I want because we have mollusks, and mermaids and pirates and sailors! They are really embracing it!”
Students are hard at work, learning blocking and memorizing lines. Sixth grader Cecily P. plays Black Stashe, a featured role and the “past version of Captain Hook.” Preparing for the role, Cecily said, “I had to look on the side of how things developed into the sooner-or-later Captain Hook. I was thinking I had to put in some pirate part but also some English part. It’s really fun doing …movements to become a different character. This play is really amazing,” said Cecily, “and how it’s being performed by our age students is really phenomenal.”
Eighth grader Peter S., is the production’s Assistant Stage Manager. “This is my first time working as a stage manager, or any position on a stage crew, though forthe last two years I have been a cast member in school plays. Really I was sort of thrown into it. I was able to watch Lorna direct the play and I got some tips from a previous stage manager who is much more experienced than I am. I feel like it’s a very different experience being on the stage than being off it.”
Lorna has done two shows annually for eight years at BFS. “This would be my 16th full-length play!” she says. The difference between the musical and the Middle School production? “The one thing I love about the musical…the fact that there is so much overlap between the upper schoolers and the middle schoolers…I think there are friendships that are forged that the kids don’t even ever expect and kids are being taken under the wing…I think it’s so great that it goes from one to the next because they get exposed to these older actors and kids who have done these shows for a long time and they learn from them. Then they come here and they are more prepared than they would have been.”
The most difficult part of being in the play? “The hardest part,” says Peter, is the exhaustion of coming in every day and giving it what you got; it tires you out and then you get home at six and you have to do all your homework.”
And the best? “We have a lot to give to what this show is about,” says Pearl W, the head mermaid. “This play is just so funky and original and the ideas in it are so…they’re such nonsense that it just makes you laugh. There’s just so many crazy things that it’s a really different and fun experience,”
“We have some really talented actors and a really amazing set,” says Peter. As for Cecily? “It just takes people back to that Peter Pan feeling.”
— Anita Bushell