“Peter and the Starcatcher” – ASU Gammage

This review aired on KBAQ January 16, 2014


Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

If you like your fairy stories to be pretentiously cute, annoyingly coy, and drag on for well over two plus hours of tedium and blandly staged boredom, “Peter and the Starcatcher” is your show this week at ASU Gammage.  If you like vibrant and provocative theater that stimulates your mind and entertains dazzlingly, stay away from the touring “Peter” company, a recent Broadway show guaranteed to lull you to sleep.

And that’s with a respectable group of actors trying hard to breathe life into Rick Elice’s new play of the Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson novel that was crafted into a charming 1954 musical.

There are lots of strikes against “Peter and the Starcatcher.”  First, the play, with a few dreadful songs by Wayne Barker, plods on and on so the magical story is not the least bit interesting especially when we are all so familiar with the more creative versions of it.  There are no new story twists or unexpected plot turns and the draggy Roger Rees and Alex Timbers staging adds nothing to keep audiences enchanted.  Add drab sets and ragtag costumes and there’s nothing visually to divert attention away from the dreadful show.

The plot tries to answer a couple of questions like where did the Captain (now called Captain Scott) and Peter (now called Boy) come from?  The answers aren’t fascinating enough to see “Peter and the Starcatcher.”  And while this show is not labeled a musical, the forgettable songs go in one ear and out the other.

The bland staging has the leads stand stage center and hardly move except back and forth making for the most insipidly staged show in recent ASU Gammage history.  It’s easy to see why this show wasn’t a colossal Broadway hit but with so little Broadway product to tour, that’s the only reason such a mediocre Broadway show would actually travel the country.

As bad as the show, the staging, and the production is, the stellar cast tries hard to make this show into something.  John Sanders makes a lot of out Black Stache and Joey deBettencourt stands out as the Boy while Megan Stern’s Molly makes one of only two female roles exciting.

“Peter and the Starcatcher” is the weakest ASU Gammage Broadway show in several seasons.  There’s nothing much to stimulate adults and the kids present opening night seemed bored and uninterested at the intermission.  It plays through Sunday (January 19).  For tickets, call the ASU Gammage box office at 480-965-6678 or order tickets online at www.asugammage.com.

Grade: D