Peter and the Starcatcher at Stage 62 | Theater | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Peter and the Starcatcher at Stage 62

This show’s fun is all in the theater of it

Brett Goodnack (left) and Nate Willey in Peter and the Starcatcher at Stage 62
Brett Goodnack (left) and Nate Willey in Peter and the Starcatcher at Stage 62

It’s easy to see the appeal of Peter and the Starcatcher to a community theater like Stage 62 production: large, stretchable cast propelled by stagecraft — not fancy (read: expensive) — sets and costumes. Credibility is not an issue. Laughs are. Stage 62 delivers. Mostly.

The provenance of this Peter ranges from J.M. Barrie (the creator of Peter Pan in various books and plays starting in 1902) to Dave Barry, the Pulitzer-winning humorist who gets top billing with co-author Ridley Pearson in a continuing series of young-adult-book “prequels” to the Pan saga. The first, Peter and the Starcatchers (2004), inspired Rick Elice to adapt it into a play, with music by Wayne Barker. It opened in 2009 and took Broadway by storm in 2012.

There is a plot, with not much sense to it, but the fun is mostly in watching cast members create cabins, waves and more, with strategic bits of rope, well-placed ladders, umbrellas en masse and other unlikely props. And let us not forget that British mainstay: drag. The manlier the man, the funnier the gag. And even if you know in advance that there will be a full-cast chorus line of mermaids a la Rockettes, you’ll still be knocked over.

There’s also quite a bit of wordplay, much of it getting mashed up between the cavernous theater space and the intense sound effects, not to mention tangling with mangled accents. But enough jokes make it through.

Director Spencer Whale juggles a jolly multicasted 11 men and one lone actual female, Casey Duffy, as the plucky young heroine. Brett Goodnack wins the scenery-chewing competition as the malapropic Black Stache, the evil but dashing pirate villain. The hirsute Cody Sweet excels as nanny Mrs. Bumbrake and the sexy mermaid Teacher, with Andrew Wolf as the former’s swain. Nate Willey is charming in the title role.

The stars might not hold our destinies, but Peter and the Starcatcher holds an assortment of chuckles, giggles and guffaws.

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