Unleash your inner child with Lakewood’s ‘Starcatcher’

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The ensemble cast of the Lakewood Playhouse production of “Peter and the Starcatcher,” the story of Peter Pan before Neverland, which runs through April 22. Photo by Tim Johnston

While Lakewood Playhouse’s latest production, “Peter and the Starcatcher,” is the backstory of the much-loved tale of Peter Pan, it is not a story crafted just for children. Sure, the show plays off the need for an active imagination, the jokes and one-liners zing with adults and over the heads of most young’uns in the tradition of Disney and Warner Brothers.

Performed on the theater’s thrust stage, the show puts audiences at the heart of a ship’s deck and on a remote desert island thanks to the effective set design by Blake York that plays off the script’s calling for the use of a child’s imagination to flesh out the world. Canes and toilet plungers become swords. A handkerchief flutters in as a bird. Green umbrellas serve as a jungle forest. It all works once audiences embrace the world of make believe. All the magic plays out once people flip that mental switch. It doesn’t take long.

Rick Elice’s theatrical adaptation of Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s best-selling novels, the play offers pirates, mermaids, a bit of magic and more than a pinch of fart jokes and cross-dressing punchlines that make it something akin to the love child of Monty Python and Saturday morning cartoons as it tells the story behind the story of Peter Pan.

The whole Neverland crew is there: Peter (played by Emily Cohen), Smee (Chap Wolff) and, of course, the future Captain Hook, who is known in the play as Black Stache (Kyle Sinclair). The play explains why the Neverland boys never age, how Hook lost his hand and what pixie dust really is through a parade of vaudeville-inspired performances from a trunk full of props sort of way.

Sinclair, of course, was amazing. Heck, he could simply silently stand under a bare light bulb and entertain audiences for hours. Theatergoers might remember him from “Avenue Q” and “Spamalot.” He brings the goofy. He brings the gaffs, and the balance of the cast follows suit with a synergy that only comes from a cast having fun and graciously allowing the audience to come along for the ride. This show looked fun to stage, more fun to perform in and was yet even more fun to watch in all its flash and frivolity.

Juxtaposing York’s highly effective set that creates the make-do vibe required for true make believe are Naarah R. McDonald’s period costumes from Queen Victoria’s Britannia.

“Peter and the Starcatcher” runs at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays through April 22, with a special, pay-what-you-can showing at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 12. Regular tickets are $26, $23 for military and $20 for students and teachers. Lakewood Playhouse is located at the Lakewood Towne Center, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd. Call (253) 588-0042 or visit LakewoodPlayhouse.org for more information.

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