LANESBORO — The story of Peter Pan has been loved by children of all ages for generations.
But how, exactly, did the orphan Peter become Peter, not to mention a Pan, and where did he get his ability to fly and do all sorts of magical things?
That's the stuff of "Peter and the Starcatcher," which opened last weekend at the Commonweal Theatre in Lanesboro.
This is kind of an adult-oriented prequel to what we traditionally think of as a young people's story. Kids will certainly enjoy the broadly drawn characters and and all the action on stage. Adults, though, will take particular delight in the puns, pop culture references and the modern twist on a classic story.
The play, by Rick Elice, based on a novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, is directed by Hal Cropp, who has said dreams of pirates and jungles fueled his imagination as kid. Well, there are pirates and jungles in this play, in what Cropp described as "a grown-up fairy tale."
As much as this story is about Peter, it is really much more about Molly, who comes to us as a strong-willed know-it-all who refuses to give an inch to boys who expect to be leaders just because they're boys. With admirable range, Lizzy Andretta portrays Molly as both stubborn and vulnerable.
Also stealing the spotlight in this story is Ben Gorman as Black Stache, a villain who tries so hard to be dastardly, but ends up being quite hilarious with his malapropisms and puns. He's supposed to be scary, but Gorman makes him impossible to either fear or dislike.
The audience also enjoyed Jeremy van Meter as Mrs. Bumbrake, Molly's governess, who takes up an unlikely romance with the ship hand Alf, played by Eric Lee.
Josiah Laubenstein is Peter, and in perhaps one of the weak points of this script, is not a major part of the freewheeling repartee. In fact, he's required to be somewhat of a downer much of the play.
Also in this large cast are Matt Donahue, Alicia Ehleringer, David Hennessey, Philip Muehe, Caroline Hawthorne and Rachel Kuhnle. The set design by Justin Hooper provides both atmosphere and flexibility, and Annie Cady's costumes are versatile enough to allow actors to play multiple characters.
Probably nothing is more fun as an adult than to imagine being a kid again. The lucky cast of "Peter and the Starcatcher" gets to do exactly that. The rest of us are happy to go along for the ride.