West Springfield High School
Everyone knows the story of Peter Pan, but what came before? Who was Peter before he became the mystical, flying boy who doesn’t age from the beloved children’s tale? Peter and the Starcatcher, a 2012 Tony-Award-winning play written by Rick Elice with music by Wayne Barker, answers this question and more. With excellent acting and technical design, Chantilly High School brought its audience onto the deck of the Neverland. There, an unnamed orphan who would later become Peter Pan teamed up with the apprentice Starcatcher Molly Aster to keep a chest of magical stardust out of the hands of pirates.
Evan Belsky (Peter) drew the audience’s sympathy early on, effectively revealing his character’s deep hurt in his emphatic monologue about how little the word “sorry” means. His transformation from a bitter orphan to a bold hero was nuanced and effective as he gradually changed his tone and physicality to show his character coming to life for the first time. Caroline Barnes offered contrast to the character of Peter as she brilliantly portrayed the 13-year-old know-it-all Molly Aster with a distinct combination of poise and innocence. She maintained a composed bearing and posh British accent, while remaining childish in her delivery. Both performers showed range, and their unique chemistry made Peter and Molly’s young love even more believable and endearing.
Of course, every story needs a villain, and Adam LeKang provided an unforgettable one as Captain Black Stache. From the moment he sauntered on stage, his over-the-top performance was a constant source of humor and energy for the show. His ability to switch from one attitude to another in an instant--threatening to theatrical to throwing tantrums--conveyed the frightening and entertaining instability of his character. His sidekick Smee (Maria Benincasa) became an equally amusing character with her boisterous behavior. The whole audience roared with laughter when she came on playing a ukulele, wearing a coconut bra, and singing hilariously off-pitch. Backed with a constantly engaged ensemble of pirates, the villains brought as much energy to the show as the heroes.
The intricate set (created by Michael Rosegrant and team), with a background of wooden planks strung with lights for stars, layers of wooden platforms, and a massive ship’s bow in the center, created the atmosphere of a ship from the moment the curtain rose. The set also demonstrated flexibility when it transformed into a tropical island with vines and pieces of the shipwrecked Neverland attached to it. The lighting design (by Ben Klosky and team) also contributed to the mystical setting, with watery blue lighting when characters went overboard, green lighting when they were deep within the jungle, and red when they were in the crocodile’s cage. Props, sound effects, and costumes were all realistic and well used. Costumes showed intricate detail, particularly the mermaid costumes, which were each unique and cleverly designed to incorporate children’s toys.
All in all, with attention to detail by both techs and performers, the Chantilly High School Theatre Program brought its audience on a moving and hilarious adventure as the players told the tale of how an unnamed orphan became Peter Pan, a villainous pirate lost his hand, a crocodile swallowed a ticking clock, and a place called Mollusk Island came to be known as Neverland.
West Springfield High School
Peter Pan, Wendy, Tinker Bell. These are all names scattered throughout one’s childhood, but have you ever wondered how they came to be or why they were destined to find each other in the age-old classic Peter Pan? Well, look no further than Chantilly High School’s production of Peter and the Starcatcher. Get ready to be enchanted, not just by pixie dust, but by the flawless execution of a top-notch production.
Peter and the Starcatcher, written by Rick Elice, was performed professionally from 2009- 2014 in a multitude of locations, including on and off Broadway. The play follows the story of three orphan boys aboard a ship named The Neverland headed for a remote kingdom, who meet a young girl named Molly. Through a twist of switched cargo, the boys and Molly must fight to keep a valuable treasure safe from pirates while fighting to survive a hurricane at sea.
The cast did a fantastic job portraying the authenticity of each character, while allowing themselves to be swept up in the magic of it all. Evan Belsky, as Peter, honed in on his emotional and human side that could be lost in the chaos and spirit of a fantasy. Whenever Belsky was on stage, all eyes were drawn to his confidence and commitment to bringing alive such a revered character. He didn’t need any lines to be captivating; Belsky truly became Peter. Caroline Barnes, as Molly, did an amazing job bringing out all the quirks and intelligence held by her fearless character. Barnes and Belsky’s contrasting characters came together to create a relationship that seemed tangible and that was a major aspect of the show’s success.
Gabe Riberio and Caleb Mitchell, Ted and Prentiss respectively, added a humorous and boyish effect to the show, rounding out the trio of orphans. Adam LeKang, as Black Stache, had the entire audience roaring with laughter as his character jumbled words and danced as a mermaid. Adriana Castillo, as Mrs. Bumbrake, and Randy Weidmann, as Alf, had a charismatic relationship, Weidmann as a bumbling, smitten lover of Castillo, a confident nanny who keeps him on his toes. The entire cast and ensemble of this production were consistently committed to their characters and picked up lines at the pace of a professional grade show.
This production was pulled together by the incredibly creative and detailed technical elements. The set, designed by Michael Rosegrant and Ben Klosky, was impeccably constructed. Every level had a use and the concept of splitting the stage between the two ships was brilliant. Costumes, headed by Christina Dang, and makeup, headed by Carolan Corcoran, were extremely detailed and helped to convey the setting and status of the characters in each scene. Lighting and sound were imperative to the understanding of the show, and never failed as an asset.