09 Starcatcher Cape Fear Regional Theatre’s production of “Peter and the Starcatcher” is what going to the theater is all about– inclusive entertainment, inspiration and showcasing great talent. It is a funfilled show with laughs for all ages.

“Peter and the Starcatcher” is the origin story of Peter Pan. It is based on the 2004 book “Peter and the Starcatchers” by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, which was adapted for stage by Rick Elice with music by Wayne Barker. The play provides a backstory for Peter Pan, Wendy, the Lost Boys, Tinker Bell and Captain Hook.

Director Michelle Tattenbaum and the cast deliver a show not to be missed. Like sticky pudding, it’s so good!

Molly, played by Malena Pennycook, is a young starcatcher in training, whose father is protecting a trunk of magical “star stuff.” After a series of mishaps fueled by greed and deception, Molly and an orphan boy, played by Graham Baker, survive a sinking ship and go on a swashbuckling adventure battling pirates, island natives and a crocodile to protect the trunk.

Timothy John Smith steals the show with his bravado and flamboyance as the pirate Black Stache. He is prone to malapropism and delivers a number of anachronistic jokes that keep the audience amused. Although his mission is to steal the trunk, what Black Stache really wants is to find a worthy opponent. The villain finds a hero in the orphan boy (to be named Peter).

Smith does an outstanding job, but as his character says, “No man is an archipelago,” and he shares the stage with a tremendous cast.

Local actress Becca Vourvoulas plays Mrs. Bumbrake, Molly’s nanny. James Martin is Lord Leonard Aster, Molly’s father. Paul Urriola plays Alf, a sailor aboard The Neverland. The ensemble includes Zane Burkhardt, Michael Carney, Karsten Otto, Justin Toyer, John Salvatore and Ben Schrager.

A standing ovation goes out to the cast and crew for the fine production, where just about everything stands out as a quality effort – from the stage direction to the set decoration. The ensemble cast merges nationally recognized actors with local talent and is a testament to the leadership and artistic vision that makes CFRT such a gem for the local community.

CFRT backstage veterans David Rawlins (scenic artist), Kenneth Blinn (production coordinator) and Bryan Hitzigrath (sound designer) are joined by regional and national talents Robin Vest (set designer) and Marika Kent (lighting designer), among others, to do an amazing job of making the words on the page come to life for the audience.

A special shout-out to the CFRT interns, who make sure all the prop and costume changes go smoothly backstage. They are surely on their toes for this production, making sure the right actor has the right sword, fish or flying cat in hand when he or she re-enters stage right.

At first glance, the set may seem minimal compared to some productions at CFRT, but it is quite extravagant in its styling and detail. The wooden planks and boxes that make up the foundation of the ships and the island prove versatile and accommodating to the volume of movement during the show. The set beautifully fits a child’s imagination of a fanciful story of pirates, singing mermaids, ships and a fearsome crocodile.

Also noteworthy are the efficient costumes by Whitney Locher. The quick changes for the ensemble cast members display a sense of creativity and splendor that add to the characters without detracting from the performance itself.

I could say something about the mermaids and their costumes at this point, but nothing I can write here would do justice to the performance at the beginning of Act 2. That is where the whole show changed for me. I admit, I thought the first 30 minutes or so was a bit wordy and slow. However, the rest of the audience thought otherwise, as indicated by their laughter and applause (as well as my own post-show polling of anyone under four feet tall). The rest of the audience found the heavy dialogue at the beginning of the show to be a quiet buildup to the action that followed. For the entire second act, I was applauding and giggling. It was fast-paced and had a rewarding conclusion for all Peter Pan fans.

Fans and newcomers to theater will not be disappointed in this show. It is a treat for theater-goers of all ages.

“Peter and the Starcatcher” runs through Nov 11. Military Appreciation Night will be Nov. 1. A sensory-friendly performance sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield will be Nov. 4. To reserve your tickets or get more information, visit www.cfrt.org or call 910-323-4233.

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