Playwright: Rick Elice. At: Bank of America, 18 West Monroe. Tickets: 800-775-2000 or www.BroadwayInChicago.com; $18-$85. Runs through: April 13
Are you a bigger fan of Captain Hook or Peter Pan? After seeing the five-time Tony-winning Peter and the Starcatcher, gay audience members might lean toward Hook, although Pan does have that baby face.
Underneath the title it states "A Grownup's Prequel to Peter Pan" but somehow I missed it. I was flying blind into this show that seemed like a slow theatrical set-up at first. This quickly faded away as the show built up steam and really started to cook, thanks to Hook in the second act.
This fable begins with an orphan called Boy, innocently played by Joey deBettencourt, on Mollusk Island with a friend called Molly, strongly played by Megan Stern. They encounter characters like Black Stache and a ferocious crocodile called Mister Grin. Many adventures ensue before the tale ends in a place called Neverland.
Is Stache playing on our team? His band of merry men seem to think he does, and even say so in this version of the classic story.
The Disney Theatrical Group produced Starcatcher but it is surprisingly adult at times and some parents escorted their children out at intermission on opening night. They apparently weren't familiar with the grown-up show, either.
John Sanders steals the spotlight as Black Stache ( or the Captain Hook role ) and gives the crowd the middle finger along with his whole hand. He eats the stage, devours it in fact and does so with relish on top until the hook arrives.
The orchestra is composed of two sound-effects men one on each side of the stage hoisted in the air inside a box. This is very effective and fun to watch them work like an old time radio show.
Peter and the Starcatcher doesn't necessarily need the Bank of America's huge stage to work; this is a show that could play well in a small venue as well. It feels like the old theater saying, "I've got a barn; let's put on a show." In fact, after interviewing John Sanders for his role I learned that the props brought this production to life originally and it has created a hands-on feel to Starcatcher that is simply magic.
There is a homemade drag mermaid scene that is not to be missed, thanks to Paloma Young, who won a Tony for best costume design.
There many such hilarious moments in this Peter Pan prequel so run out to catch Starcatcher before it flies out of town April 13. This is a chance to catch it before the novel of the show will be made into a big-budget Walt Disney picture with director Gary Ross ( The Hunger Games ).
As the Sally Field reference in this production comically says, "You like me; you really like me"and as far as this reviewer goes, yes, I did.