Peter and the Starcatcher lands in Denver

Categories: Theater

Luke Smith plays Smee and John Sanders is Black Stache.
In 2012 Peter and the Starcatcher left the Tony awards ceremony with five trophies, including best performance by an actor, best sound design of a play, best costume design of a play, best scenic design of a play, and best lighting design of a play. Now the company is on a mission to spread the fairy dust across the country, kicking off the play's national tour this past weekend in Denver at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

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In Peter and the Starcatcher, playwright Rick Elice explains how Peter Pan became forever young, how Captain Hook got his name, and how Neverland was discovered. For two hours and fifteen minutes, the audience recaptures the innocence and imagination of childhood.

"This show is interesting because it has all of the bells and whistles that any Broadway show would have, but what is different about it is that they aren't done with hydraulics and huge moving scenery -- they are done with us using sticks, ropes, buckets and plungers to create the scenery," says John Sanders, who plays Black Stache. "The directors imposed these limitations on themselves, which means that we the actors and the audience have to use our imaginations to make a piece of rope to make a doorway or staircase or have to use an actor as a doorway, or whatever they need us for. Those things are all kind of built into the show, and they invite us and the audience into this theatrical language that is all about imagination and fun. It actually kind of reminds me about why I got into acting in the first place."

Luke Smith, who plays Smee, Black Stache's right-hand man, never imagined he would have this role. "I grew up with Peter Pan," he says, "I think I used to see myself as playing him, but playing Smee is just too much fun." And everyone can enjoy the fun, he adds: "What attracts me to the play is the stuff we do on stage is what I did when I was five, playing with things I find and changing them, like turning a plunger into a sword. We are kind of getting to be grown-up kids on stage, and that's kind of what people like to see and I think relate to."

Megan Stern as Molly.
Megan Stern plays Molly, "an extraordinarily unique character," she says. "In this era, it was unusual for a girl to be a heroine, a leader, and an adventurer and to be so unapologetic and to truly open up. It's kind of a dream role."

To play the part, Stern explains, "I spend time thinking about how I was at Molly's age (thirteen) and how I can relate to her. I think it's a really cool decision to have adults play kids, because we know things about what it's like to be kids and we are able to reflect back upon it."

Although the set is somewhat simple and requires a little imagination, the proscenium that surrounds the stage is anything but simple. Tony award-winning set designer Donyale Werle created this large piece using recycled products that people sent from all over the country. If you look closely, you can see bottle caps sent from Coors Field.

Donyale Werle in front of her set at the Ellie.

Peter and the Starcatcher continues through September 1, with shows Tuesday through Sunday at 7:30 p.m., as well as 2 p.m. matinees on Saturdays and Sundays, and on Thursday, August 29. The matinee on Sunday, September 1 will be an Audio-description/American sign language program. For more information on Peter and the Starcatcher, visit the show's website. For tickets, go to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts website.

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