Edge, Featured, Theater

Play ‘catches’ audience’s affection

The mermaid cast of "Peter and the Starcatchers." // Photo courtesy Justin Namon

The mermaid cast of “Peter and the Starcatchers.” // Photo courtesy Justin Namon

If a rambunctious group of young, lost boys were asked to stage a play, it would result in the lightning-fast pace and deliciously witty humor that pervades “Peter and the Starcatcher” at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, playing through Oct. 26.

This is a collaboration between the University of Miami (UM) and the Arsht Center to provide students pursuing Bachelor of Fine Arts  degrees the opportunity to perform in a professional environment. Out of the 12-person cast, 10 performers are UM students.

The Arsht Center was the first regional theater to be granted the rights to produce the show since it played on Broadway and in a national tour. Ring Theatre Director Henry Fonte attempted to recreate and re-envision the entire show, beginning with new stage directions and a completely original set design.

From the get-go, the audience was off on a fantastic journey into the untold origins of Peter Pan, “The Boy Who Never Grew Up,” in this five-time Tony award-winning play.

With jokes about Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” and milkshakes bringing “all the boys to the yard,” the comedy struck a balance between contemporary humor and its setting during the peak of British imperialism.

It would be an understatement to say that the fourth wall was broken. The imaginary divide between the audience and the actors came catapulting down, smashed by the performer’s constant quips toward the audience and narration of their characters’ thoughts and feelings.

As the play begins, the audience meets an orphan who cannot remember his name, has no friends and is dubbed “boy.” This boy (senior Joshua Jacobson) develops throughout the production and is eventually given the name Peter.

Jacobson created moving moments of self-doubt and eventual self-discovery as Peter comes into his own and discovers what he had always been seeking: a home.

Molly Astor (senior Abigail Berkowitz) shone as the lone female in the cast, distinguishing herself with her clever plans and laser-sharp focus on her mission to protect the trunk full of “star stuff,” remnants of stars that contain magic. Berkowitz also expertly navigated the turbulent waters of  emotional pre-adolescence.

Among the rest of the cast, Mrs. Bumbrake (sophomore Thomas Jansen) added a dose of absurdity to the situation as Jansen played a British nanny set on protecting Molly. Senior Alejandro Gonzalez del Pino reveled in his role as Fighting Prawn, chief of the island natives. Ted (junior Timothy Boehm-Manion) sent giggles throughout the crowd with his insatiable hunger and ongoing quest to eat a pineapple.

Youthful and imaginative, the staging turned child’s play into an intricate romp around the set, which contained two levels as well as two main structures connected by a winding bridge. The set was a jungle gym that punctuated the immense energy unleashed by the cast into their constantly changing roles.

The cast of 12 portrayed more than 100 characters including pirates, lost boys, island natives and inanimate objects. Just as young boys would play make-believe, the majority of props were substituted for the boys themselves who acted as a ship, cat, door, ocean, stars, bird, horse, tree and even an airborne leviathan.

The production is reflective of Neverland’s fanciful nature. The cast are young-at-heart performers who are just playing make-believe.

While the show made the audience feel like it had ingested pixie dust and was off on a wild ride to Neverland, the cacophony of sights and sounds served a greater purpose.

Thoughtful pauses punctuated the production – as Mrs. Bumbrake would alliterate – allowing for side scenes and narration to carry the plot along. Though doused in comedy, the production centers around the theme of the inevitable fact that children grow up.

If, as Black Stache the pirate claimed, “time will be our treasure,” then audiences should invest their time into this gem.

October 12, 2014

Reporters

Ashley Martinez

Ashley Martinez is a senior majoring in journalism and psychology, which have sharpened her people-watching skills. She has worked as a staff writer, copy editor, assistant editor and is now the Edge arts and entertainment editor at The Miami Hurricane. She serves as the president of UM's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Her work has been featured in The Hurricane, Distraction Magazine, The Communique, Gables Home Page and The Miami Herald. When she's not working on a story, she loves going to the theatre and singing show tunes.


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

The Miami Hurricanes are running low on tight ends. But their receivers — notably sophomore speedste ...

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Tuesday: ▪ The pretty even split of carries between Travis Homer ...

The University of Miami has lost another player to surgery, and the depth was already lacking at thi ...

A six-pack of UM notes on a Monday: ▪ There has been no more popular or successful quarterback at UM ...

The Miami Hurricanes’ defense leads the nation in tackles for loss and stopping opponents on third d ...

New technology could help schools identify shooters and other intruders before they enter the door. ...

A University of Miami professor has created software to detect fraud in standardized tests. ...

UM President Julio Frenk outlined the strategies of the Roadmap to Our New Century, part of his Stat ...

Students attending Monday night's State of the U address by UM President Julio Frenk offer thei ...

At UM’s inaugural State of the U address, President Julio Frenk detailed the strategies of the Roadm ...

Jeff Thomas may be quiet off the field, but the sophomore has been consistently making lots of noise ...

The Atlantic Coast Conference announced Tuesday the league slate for the upcoming 2018-19 season. ...

Miami remained ranked in both major polls Sunday, checking in at No. 21 in the Associated Press Top ...

The Miami Hurricanes came to Toledo, Ohio for the biggest home game in the history of Toledo footbal ...

A quartet of University of Miami men's tennis student-athletes concluded the final day of compe ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.