By Jonathan Decker (Family therapist, media critic)
Prequels and backstories are tricky. If done poorly, they threaten to remove the lustre of a well-loved story. If done well, they provide new insights while honoring the original tale, casting it in a new, satisfying light. The five-time Tony-winning play Peter and the Starcatcher is a case of the latter, exploring how Peter became Pan and a captain became Hook. Now playing at the Hale Center Theatre in Orem UT, the razor-sharp screenplay is brought to life with rapid-fire banter, infectious cast chemistry, and a delightful silliness.
Abram Yarbo makes for an empathetic, heartbroken Peter, an orphan who’s never known joy and has reason to mistrust adults. Lizzy Dabcynski-Bean is delightful as fiery, adventurous Molly, a young woman whose life intersects with Peter’s. Stealing every scene he’s in is Benjamin J. Henderson as Black Stache, the pirate antagonist who’s as bumbling as he is threatening. The rest of the ensemble is fantastic, with not a weak actor among them.
From fast-and-funny dialogue to clever sight gags, the show is peppered with laughs along with moments of surprising poignancy. The Hale Center venue offers great views anywhere one sits, the “theatre in the round” allowing the audience to be close to the actors throughout. Every expression, gesture, and nuance in the performances is readily appreciated. Peter and the Starcatcher is appropriate for families with a slight heads up on mild language and slapstick violence. For tickets visit http://haletheater.org/ or call 801-226-8600.
Jonathan Decker is the clinical director of Your Family Expert. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist, husband, and father of five. Jonathan earned a masters degree in family therapy from Auburn University as well as a bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology from Brigham Young University. He is an actor, author, and television personality.