Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Peter is Back on Broadway


Who would take an epic book and turn it into a Tony nominated play? When you're Disney and you are behind the book and the play...you can do whatever you want. Not that it hasn't been done before. Nicholas, Nickleby (which starred one of this show's directors) - Les MizTale of Two Cities...but something is very different about Peter and the Starcatcher from those huge shows. This doesn't feel "huge".

If you were like me and knew nothing of the story: in short - a prequel to the story of Peter Pan. There. That's the story written by Rick Elice, based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. 

As mentioned above, it is helmed by two directors (each bringing their own style to the show) Roger Rees and Alex Timbers. A mix of regional/college/experimental theater....the type that Broadway is usually afraid of...along with a vaudeville "let's do a show in my yard & we'll play multiple roles". Boy do they ever. Sweat is falling on the stage with this hard working ensemble. And it is great ensemble work. Christian Borle (who most now know from the TV show SMASH) and Celia Keenan-Bolger have been singled out for Tony nominations along with 7 other noms for this show. Borle's monologue in Act 2 makes him very worthy. I've seen him before on stage, but never like this. He was Kevin Cline meets Tim Curry. What a performance! I also enjoyed Adam Chanler-Berat as Peter (from Next to Normal) & Ms. Keenan-Bolger as a 13 year old known-it-all Starcatcher in training. 

The direction really is genius. Using things like rope and actor's bodies to create multiple locations and sets. Very much as a child would. After all, it's a child's story for adults to enjoy too. I've not read the books, but really enjoyed seeing where Peter came from and knowing where we were headed.

The audience rushed to their feet (which is nothing new on Broadway now) and cheered for the most nominated play on Broadway. 

I do have a few issues with the show. I'm not one for the 60s British humor. And this is full of silly jokes and over the top gags to make children laugh. (And several adults.) Not my type of humor. (Benny Hill, Monty Python). But many love that comedy and will love it in this show.

My other issue: The Tony nomination for Best Score. Yes, it has original songs...but none are overly memorable. I almost wish they would have just gone for it and created it as a small musical instead of a play with music.

All that said, the kid in me was touched by the ending & for a moment I wished I could be forever young like Peter Pan. 

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