Peter and the Starcatcher Through July 31; Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.; $25. Las Vegas Little Theatre, 702-362-7996.
When Peter and the Starcatcher burst onto the scene a few years ago, it was hailed as a theatrical tour de force, a brazenly theatrical, fourth-wall breaking love letter to a treasured tale and the art of theater. It pulled off the amazing trick of making the 100-year-old story of Peter Pan new—by using theatrical techniques that would have seemed at home 200 years ago. While entertaining, Las Vegas Little Theatre’s production doesn’t reach those heights.
Peter and the Starcatcher is best thought of as a prequel to Peter Pan—while giving you an almost completely new view of the story. You’ll learn about Tinkerbell’s origin, where the mermaids came from and how Captain Hook lost his hand—but I guarantee you’ve never laughed as much at that Hook scene as when you see it here.
The show is unfailingly creative in its staging—using a rope to demark the confines of a cabin, or the waves of the ocean, or the exterior of a boxing ring—and while that’s a part of the treasure of the show, somewhere between Broadway and here it lost a little of its pixie dust magic. Whether it was the set pieces that fell when they shouldn’t have—and didn’t when they should have—or the timing around certain tricks that never quite gelled, the execution nodded at being ingenious but never felt organic or surprising, just borrowed.
The cast gives it their all—perhaps trying too hard at times. Almost everyone speaks in a cartoon-y voice, whether with an accent or just an affect, to create a distinctive character. But at times it seemed nearly impossible to understand the actors; several jokes were lost while whole sections of dialogue couldn’t be made out. As Boy (aka Peter), Michael Blair captured the angst of a mistreated youth, but didn’t fully let that go into the boundless, impish energy of Pan. As Black Stache, Lysander Abadia prowled the stage waggishly, but didn’t find the balance between fop and villain.
But there were other moments where this show absolutely delivered. The flirting tenderness between Peter and Molly (Aviana Glover) packed both laughter and tears; the live sound effects/musical team of James Mares and Jeff McCracken was wonderful; watching the ensemble aid Glover as she “swam” through a storm to rescue Peter was enchanting; and Laura McClure’s costumes were a delight. Ultimately, though, while Las Vegas Little Theatre managed to re-create some of the show’s magic, it felt too much like a copy instead of a fresh show in its own right.