Drury Lane’s ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’ sparkles

If you’ve ever wondered how Peter Pan became Peter Pan – and just why, exactly, he stopped at Wendy Darling’s house in the first place – Drury Lane Theatre’s sparkling production of “Peter and the Starcatcher” sheds more than a little light.

If you go

Runs through Oct.18, 2015

 

Drury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook

 

www.drurylaneoakbrook.com

 

Back before the days of Neverland (and well in advance of any lost boys) there were two ships, a handful of unfortunate orphans and a too-smart-for-her-own-good heroine on the cusp of womanhood. What happens next is the stuff of legends: a swashbuckling race towards a secluded island, a treasure chest full of magic (and another “treasure” chest full of … not treasure) and a secret mission entrusted to a select few. Along the way, a nefarious, not-yet-hooked pirate begins to resemble a certain sea captain we all know and love and a legendary Boy Who Never Grew Up is created.

Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s book (adapted into a play by Rick Elice) zips along with hilarity and a decided love of twisty, fun language and William Osetek’s direction leads this cast of twelve (playing over a hundred characters!) through an energetic romp that’s laugh-out-loud funny. (My 5-year-old couldn’t catch her breath towards the end, and I know she wasn’t alone.)

This regional premiere of the Broadway smash hit features a simply standout ensemble. Black Stache, portrayed by Matt Mueller, is an almost lovable villain, offset perfectly by the eagerly practical Smee (Jeff Dumas). Emma Rosenthal’s Molly Aster (adding a much-needed dose of “girl power”) is infused with confidence, brains and empathy for days. The “boy,” of course, is the heart of the play; Caleb Donahoe’s embodiment stirs pity while having you root for his journey right from the opening song.

At over two hours in run time (including intermission), Peter and the Starcatcher is not the shortest play you’ll see all year, but I can pretty much guarantee that it’ll be among your family’s best.

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