If I impart one thing to you about Peter and the Starcatcher on stage at the Orpheum, let it be this: it’s a literary dream. Yes, it’s ostensibly a kid-friendly play with plenty of physical gags and imagination to delight young audiences—the strong female character defying the boys as their precocious leader doesn’t hurt—but this one was made for the grown-ups.
Whip smart wordplay and cheeky puns abound, pirates fight in rhyme, there’s an allusion to Phillip Glass in there that has the audience guffawing in surprise, and the whole play echoes Shakespeare with its rotating chorus deftly narrating the action and an especially goofy Entr’acte of cross-dressing mermaids. Needless to say, the cast seems to have as much fun as the audience.
The star is the charmingly evil Black Stache, a pirate of brilliant showmanship and an exemplary mustache played by John Sanders. A two-minute dialogue in reaction to slamming his hand in a trunk consists only of the words “Oh my God,” a Robin Williams-esque performance worthy of its own applause.
And what of the sort-of-happy ending? I’m a softhearted cynic, and this one cut straight to my gooey core. As a prequel to Peter Pan, it fits in perfectly with the familiar tale of Wendy and the Lost Boys we know to follow.
Peter and the Starcatcher runs March 11—March 16 at the Orpheum Theatre.