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28Jan

Peter and the Starcatcher - Loudoun Valley High School - Purcellville, Virginia - December 10, 2016

Corinne Kleinman

Wakefield School

“You single-handedly rendered me single handed,” the hilariously evil pirate, Black Stache, shouted at the Boy near the end of “Peter and the Starcatcher.” Last night, Loudoun Valley High School single-handedly transported the audience into a magical world where Neverland exists, where little boys can stay young forever, and where almost anything is possible.

 

“Peter and the Starcatcher” tells the vibrant story of a feisty girl, Molly, who leads a group of orphans to protect a chest of “starstuff” from the hysterically funny pirate, Black Stache.  Based on Dave Barry’s and Ridley Pearson’s prequel to JM Barrie’s revered classic “Peter and Wendy,” the show opened on Broadway in 2012 and garnered massive critical acclaim, including five Tony awards.

 

Trevor Schoeny (Peter) and Megan Horgan (Molly) led the cast in the comic adventure of Neverland’s founding.  Schoeny sparkled in the emotional scenes - when he was in the orphanage or alone on the island, his hunched shoulders created palpable tension; with a mischievous twinkle, Schoeny perfectly mastered the classic Peter Pan stance.  Schoeny and Horgan smoothly developed their character’s’ friendship into a believably awkward, adorably tender kiss as their final goodbye.

 

The show featured several dazzling duos with sizzling stage presence. First, Darius Fraser cross-dressing as Mrs. Bumbrake, and Cole Walker as Bumbrake’s love interest, Alf, kept the audience enthralled with their single-minded dedication to their characters’ travails.  Mrs. Bumbrake’s comically high voice and overwrought mannerisms (especially in the mermaid song) are worth special praise.

 

With great comedic timing and winning smiles, Peter’s companion orphans, Blake Carlson (Prentiss) and Evan Kagarise (Ted), played off each other’s energy with effervescent chemistry. Kagarise’s fascination with a pineapple (trying, unsuccessfully, to eat it like an apple) and common line “Pork!” brought chuckles to even the darkest of scenes.

 

With “a little swash and a bit of buckle,” sporting his “celebrated nosebrush,” and “lawn on the lip,” Charlie Trochlil’s Captain Stache emerged as the undisputed master of the evening - accompanied by his dedicated, luckless, charming, wacky, grammar-nazi, ukulele-wielding sidekick, Smee. Trochil’s impeccable timing, his commitment to over-the-top physical comedy, and complete willingness to make an utter fool of himself endeared him to the audience.

 

But more than any one character, the incredibly effective ensemble electrified the night with perfect timing and glittering energy.  Every character, no matter how small, delved deeply into his or her role.  The rousing opening of Act II, featuring most of the cast in clever (and positively hilarious) mermaid costumes, is just one example of the cast’s high energy and dedication. Most impressively, all the actors performed without microphones, projecting powerfully to the very back of the house.

 

Any discussion of Loudoun Valley’s “Peter and the Starcatcher” would be remiss without mention of the light, set, and sound. Flawlessly timed lighting united with a simplistic but highly effective set —predominantly made of rope and wooden planks — to create seamless transitions between the nautical ships to the overgrown jungle-like island. Although the stage could be slightly dark at times, the actors sparkled from the shadows - the director’s varied use of light and dark always created a compelling stage picture.

 

Last night, Loudoun Valley created a truly magical performance about how an unnamed orphan became Peter Pan, one of the most worshipped young boys in all literature.  From cast to crew to stage to set, the performance truly glistened with light and energy - leaving the audience with the impression that, with a little bit of help, anyone - even an orphan - can learn to fly.


Helen Ganley

McLean High School

 

Ominous sails bearing the Jolly Roger glide across thrashing seas in pursuit of an ornate chest of treasure. The isolation of the open seas encases orphan Peter and Apprentice Starcatcher Molly Aster as they attempt to deter the swashbuckling pirates from getting the chest full of magical “starstuff.” With a glowing amulet to guide the way, Loudon Valley High School’s production of “Peter and the Starcatcher” inspires all to reach for the stars.

 

Written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson in 2004, this prequel to Peter Pan spawned a new series of tales incorporating the classic characters from J.M. Barrie’s original. With newfound popularity, Peter and the Starcatcher spurred the crew’s journey from fairytale to stage production in 2011. Beginning on Broadway in 2012, Peter’s impish persona remained on stage until 2013, when the show ended its run.

 

With sparkling eyes and a youthful gleam, Trevor Schoeny, portraying Peter Pan, presents a steady performance of a petulant child. Showing both sides of Peter, as the defensive, abandoned orphan and as a prideful, rowdy lost boy, Shoeny had the audience rooting for him throughout the whole production.  His organic, childlike qualities shone, especially when paired with the spritely Megan Horgan (Molly Aster). Horgan’s consistent energy and “girl-power” attitude created a compelling heroine that drove the plot. The duo’s adolescent love story created an awkward romance that had the audience in tears when they had to bid each other farewell.

 

As every rendition of Peter Pan needs, Charlie Trochlil presented an uproarious Black Stache as the (eventually) handless pirate opposing Peter. Along with his loyal sidekick Smee, brought to life by Ian Carlson, the pair swaggered across the stage, their constant back and forth radiating energy that filled the room. The brotherly combo of Ted and Prentiss, Evan Kagarise and Blake Carlson, created a comedic team of gluttony and vanity that impressed. Standout Darius Fraser fully embraced the stately female character of Mrs. Bumbrake. Humorously adapting a shrill falsetto for much of the show, Fraser brought incited roars of laughter in those perfectly timed moments when he slipped back into his true and charming bass.

 

It was all-hands-on-deck for Loudoun Valley High School’s production of “Peter and the Starcatcher.” Collectively, the tech, led by Stage Manager Hannah Allison, transported the audience to a place where they felt they’d never grow up. Noah Wade, Scenic Designer, and his capable crew loosely draped ropes and sails across the stage simulating the decks of both the Neverland and Wasp. A run crew dressed appropriately as pirates, their costumes reflecting the cohesiveness of the seamen that was present within the entire cast, swiftly moved large set pieces on and off stage. Quinn Weir (Props Mistress) and Lauren Sullivan (Lighting Designer) cleverly combined spotlights and nautical flags to give the giant crocodile its form, creating one of the most powerful scenes in the show.

 

Whimsy, calamity, and fraternity form the foundation of Loudoun Valley High School’s “Peter and the Starcatcher” A savvy combination of gallant cast along and seaworthy technical elements welcome all to a Neverland they never knew. With faith, trust, and starstuff, this show proves that anything is possible, if you just believe.

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