Cheer up, kid

‘Peter and the Star­catcher’ a the­atri­cal mood tonic.

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Chris­tine Dolen Staff writer

Does the state of the world have you feel­ing glum, chum? Slow Burn The­atre and the Broward Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts have the ideal an­ti­dote to news­feed-in­duced up­set: “Peter and the Star­catcher,” an es­capist the­atri­cal tonic for se­ri­ous times.

Based on Dave Barry and Ri­d­ley Pear­son’s 2004 best­selling chil­dren’s novel “Peter and the Star­catch­ers” (yes, there’s an ex­tra “S” in the book’s ti­tle), the in­ven­tive play was adapted for the stage by “Jersey Boys” book co-au­thor Rick Elice.

This pre­quel to “Peter Pan” has flown from the La Jolla Play­house in 2009 to off-Broad­way in 2011, Broad­way in 2012, back to off-Broad­way in 2013 and to nu­mer­ous re­gional the­aters, in­clud­ing a col­lab­o­ra­tive pro­duc­tion by Mi­ami’s Ar­sht Cen­ter and the Univer­sity of Mi­ami in 2014. Ni­cholas Rich­berg, who played hammy-tothe-bone pi­rate Black Stache (aka the fu­ture Cap­tain Hook) in that pro­duc­tion, re­ceived the Car­bonell Award as best ac­tor in a play in 2015 for his exquisitely over-thetop per­for­mance in that ver­sion.

This time, Clay Cart­land (who, coin­ci­den­tally, won the best ac­tor in a mu­si­cal Car­bonell in 2015) gets to don the pi­rate king’s black han­dle­bar mus­tache. Cart­land’s hammy Black Stache? Ir­re­sistible.

Staged in the Broward Cen­ter’s Abdo New River Room by Slow Burn di­rec­tor-chore­og­ra­pher Pa­trick Fitzwa­ter, “Peter and the Star­catcher” is per­formed by a dozen ac­tors (11 men and one woman) who de­light in the play’s cel­e­bra­tion of the­atri­cal make­be­lieve.

Sev­eral fu­ture “Peter Pan” char­ac­ters fig­ure into the pre­quel, though it takes some time for their iden­ti­ties to so­lid­ify.

The boy who will be­come Peter Pan is at first a name­less or­phan called Boy (Jor­don Arm­strong). His or­phan bud­dies and fu­ture Lost Boys are the pushy Pren­tiss (Robert Fritz) and the rav­en­ous Ted (Corey Vega). The three are sold to the ruth­less Bill Slank, cap­tain of the old ship Nev­er­land, who tells the boys that they’re bound for the king­dom of Run­doon, where they’ll be­come helpers to the king — though Slank has a far dead­lier fate in mind for them.

Also on­board the Nev­er­land is the plucky, brainy Molly Aster (Krys­tal Mil­lie Valdes), who will grow up to be­come the mother of Wendy Dar­ling. Her fa­ther, Lord Aster (Matthew Korinko), is trav­el­ing aboard the much faster ship the Wasp on a se­cret mis­sion for Queen Vic­to­ria. That’s where Black Stache, his hench­man Smee (a glee­ful Cameron Jor­dan) and their mot­ley pi­rate crew en­ter the ac­tion. Soon enough, Black Stache will dis­cover that greed is not good — and in his case, it’s down­right painful.

“Peter and the Star­catcher” runs through Nov. 26 at the Broward Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Laud­erdale See broward­cen­ter.org for show­times. Tick­ets cost $45. Call 954-422-2662 or go to Broward­cen­ter.org.

RO­DRIGO BALFANZ/COUR­TESY

Sev­eral fu­ture “Peter Pan” char­ac­ters fig­ure into the pre­quel, but it takes some time for iden­ti­ties to so­lid­ify.

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