The music of sea shanties embraced Craft Theater as the audience walked into the theater. The stage was relatively bare, but little did the audience know that they would soon be transported to another world. From Dec. 8-11, CHS’s Community Ensemble Theater (CET) performed “Peter and the Starcatcher,” a play by Rick Elice, based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Directed by CET’s beloved director Quinn Strassel, CET members presented a moving tale filled with imagination and daring feats.
The story serves as a prequel to Peter Pan and explains many of the story’s origins. Some of these included how Captain Hook lost his hand, why the island is called Neverland and where the Lost Boys came from. The cast included senior Callum Mein in the lead role of Peter, senior Sophie Haviland in the role of Molly, Wendy Darling’s mother and junior Fiona Lynch as Black Stache with senior Ruby Lowenstein as Black Stache’s loyal right hand man, Smee.
Considering the size of Community’s Craft Theater, the blocking can be a challenge due to the lack of space. The play takes place on a ship in the first act and on an island in the second. This effect was brought to life by the use of elements such of pantomime, props and a fluid stage. There was even a scene where the ship encounters a strong storm and splits apart, the production made it look realistic through the magic of lighting, blocking, and very convincing acting.
The show ran for two and a half hours, which required the cast to stay energetic and active throughout the play. And nobody was more dynamic and hilarious than Black Stache, portrayed perfectly by Lynch. Filled with witty one liners and spot-on comedic timing, Lynch was able to make the infamous villain an amusing comic relief.
However, Lynch admits that being energetic was not her sole doing. “We all support each other when we come on stage,” Lynch said. “We’re focused throughout the whole thing, we’re enjoying ourselves and we have really great warm-ups.”
Mein and Haviland, also gave heartfelt performances as curious preteens who end up falling in love. Secondary characters such as Peter’s orphan friends, Ted and Prentiss – played by senior Clarence Collins and sophomore Jeff Burris – gave the show some laugh out loud moments, such as Ted’s constant yearning for sticky pudding and Prentiss’ determination to always be the leader of the group.
The show also had some scary moments. During the first act, Peter has a flashback to the orphanage where he was beaten by Grempkin, the abusive caretaker that was played perfectly terrifyingly by senior Khalil Eljamal. This is the main reason why Peter hates grown ups, but he always remembers the song that his mother, played by junior Isabel Ratner, sang to him before she abandoned him.
Other notable performances were sophomore Ben Chambers, who played Molly’s father Lord Aster, a devoted subject to the Queen and loving father who gives Molly the “starstuff” that allows anybody to transform into whatever they want.
The show had many very funny characters and moments. Senior Emily Fishman gave a flawless and entertaining performance of Fighting Prawn, the king of Mollusk Island, who vowed to kill all Englishmen because of his bad treatment as a servant. Another truly priceless element was the romantic interest of Mrs. Bumbrake, Molly’s prim and loving English nanny played in drag spot on by sophomore Jonah Eichner, and Alf, the kindly old seafarer played by junior Max Bonevich.
But the true importance of the play was not necessarily on stage. The inside cover of the program showed a picture of Justin Tang, a beloved CET member who passed away in late Oct. Written on the top right corner was “For Justin.” The set also featured an uncovered piece of wood, which was the last set piece Tang worked on, and written on it are messages of love towards him by fellow CET members.
“One of the lines [of the play was] ‘The things you did against impossible odds,’ and that’s sort of what the show felt like,” Lynch said. “[Strassel] told us that was the line that struck him, because this was such a hard show to get through and we got through it, and it seemed like it was impossible but we managed to get it done.”
While the show had its ups and its downs, CET successfully managed to produce a show filled with adventure, comedy and the lesson of love.