Review: “Peter and the Starcatcher” is not to be missed

Warning: in the not too distant future, you’ll want to run to your phone and make a reservation at Newnan Theatre Company. You’ve only got one more weekend to catch Peter and the Starcatcher before it’s gone….So, go ahead. I’ll wait.

It’s regrettable, at times, that because Newnan’s schedule is so tightly packed – 10 shows this 2017/2018 Season – that only two weekends are allotted for a production. There are shows that should run until their legs give out and everyone gets a chance to see them. This is one, folks; this is one.

It’s a origin story of great but logical invention; a twisty turny script with lots of surprises, based on the book of the same name, that takes full advantage of most every theatrical trick in the book: Speak-out’s to the audience, fast paced physical action, tongue-in-cheek jokes, outrageous costumes – you name it, this show’s got it. It could be a real mish-mash, a hodgepodge of humor, running about with its head cut off and with over the top acting – but it works. It all works.

And the reason it does…well, there are two reasons. First, Director Dale Lyles is the sure and experienced hand on the wheel of this crazy clown car of madness; he keeps things revolving and mostly tight; he keeps our focus where it ought to be (and that’s no small feat with a large cast of crazy characters and literal moving parts) and he’s cast the show well. I for one would love to know where he found so many men – that’s usually the big stumbling block of community theatres…but found them, he did and he uses them well.

The second reason? Speaking of men, Mr. Lyles reached out to the profoundly talented, once local and now playing in the big leagues Equity actor Mike Funt.  There it is. It’s a bit of a humdrum show until Mr. Funt’s character is revealed, and then..oh then..this show takes off and never fades again. He’s a terrific talent with a big part that begs for a sure hand to take it right up to the edge of excess. He has so much fun and so, dear friends, do we. There is a moment near the end when he takes his ‘bit’ for a ride…and on and on and on. I for one was completely delighted – it takes guts to go for a moment and keep it going for a ridiculously long beat, but by God, he did it. He earned every second.

The other standouts include the lone female (oh the feminist that is I really, really hates this, but that’s the nature of the story) character, played by Hannah Rubenstein with great pluck.  Charles Ferguson’s Mrs. Brumbake and Tyler Rosso’s Alf are nothing but delightful.

A shout out to the Scenic Designer – uncredited – who created the ‘torture devices’ that move, spin, and stand-in for ships, trees, masts, islands – whatever. They work.

I’m trying not to give too much away but one last note: don’t be tardy at the top of Act II. Get your popcorn and get back to your seat. You do not want to miss the Act opener.

I hope I’ve convinced you. Go see Peter.

 

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