A Review: 'Peter and the Starcatcher' soars at Embassy
By Tom Valentine
Are you ready for some football?? Sorry, but I can not help you with that. But if you are ready for some LIVE Theatre, The Embassy in downtown Cumberland can satisfy your need. Yes, the theatre is open for a LIVE presentation of "Peter and the Star Catcher" with shows slated for this weekend.
The family friendly show is called a prequel to “Peter Pan” and gives the backstory of the orphan who became the boy who never grew up. He and his mates set sail from Victorian England to a distant Kingdom. During their journey, they encounter a motley crew of pirates, a terrible storm at sea, a jungle tyrant, and an evil king. Their engaging adventure also includes a mysterious trunk that contains a precious cargo. In addition, they are introduced to Molly, a precocious Star Catcher in Training and Stache, a Captain Hook character in earlier times.
No, Peter does not fly in this show - but the production soars!
The action of the play is fast and furious. Think of The Marx Brothers meeting Monty Python on a Vaudeville stage. The comedic routines run the gamut of goofy jokes, terrible puns, chase scene zaniness, and flatulence jokes (what else would you expect around adolescent school boys?)
Director Marty Jellison makes sure things do not get out of hand. He has created a tight show with this charming cast. He uses creative staging, a clever set, special lights and sound effects, and incidental music by a live combo as well. The imaginative use of ropes, ladders, trunks, fake cats, phony birds, and toy boats helps to tell the whimsical tale.
The entire cast performs with exuberance and energy. The young leads of Nate Hutchings as The Boy (Peter) and Caitlin Weems as Molly show great chemistry and confidence. Nate looks quite comfortable as he radiates boyishness and stage experience at the same time. Caitlin shines as a clever and fearless leader. She is definately a dream with brains.
In supporting roles, Kenny Heath presents a distinguished gentleman as the understanding and kindly Mr. Aster. Karl Glocker makes an adorable and bumbling Smee.
However, the two "bad guys" are the two characters we are supposed to hate - but we enjoy the most with their exaggerated antics. Tim Bambara makes a wonderful "Captain Hook To Be" with his over the top narcissistic attitude. His campy caricature makes us want to hiss the villain!
Kevin Shreve does double duty as the sinister Bill Slenk and the frightening Fighting Prawn. Those who have worked with Kevin in the past know he is just the opposite in real life and that makes watching him a delight.
Rounding out the cast are Jillian Dugan, Whtney O'Haver, Danise Whitlock, Amy Dzaack, Matt Armentrout, Dannagale Acord, and Jessica Miller.
If no other reason, you must see the opening number for Act Two, "Mermaid Outta Me". After the spirited Act One, we view the cast in various...well..fish tales and fins. The beginning of the song warns us, "You might think we've gone too far.." But the routine captures musical theater at its finest. The song and dance are just too cute for words. At dress rehearsal, I blurted out at the end of the number, "Are you kidding me" because it was just that good!
The Embassy Theatre is one of the first performance venues to reopen in the state. They will be following the Governor's directives as we move into Stage Three of Covid-19 Recovery. All guidelines, including proper social distancing, wearing of masks, and sanitized facilities will be followed.
Catch The Star Catcher Sept. 25, 26 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 27, at 2 p.m. After dealing with this pandemic, we can all use a little fantasy and make-believe. The best vaccine might just be this visit to Neverland - before it gets too touristy.