Review: Fly to Cincinnati Landmark Productions’ “Peter and the Starcatcher”

Cincinnati Landmark Productions does this story justice--and that is an understatement. This show is absolutely breathtaking and magical and will make any audience member young or old, believe in the magic of Peter Pan again.

By Adam Schwartz

In the world of theatre, there are many classics. The works of Shakespeare, Our Town, and Peter Pan to name a few. First performed in 1904 London, Peter Pan introduced audiences to “Neverland,” the magical island full of mermaids, pirates, magic pixies, and the titular boy who would never grow up. Peter and the Starcatcher is a creative prequel, written as a book by humorist and columnist Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. It premiered at La Jolla Playhouse in 2009, and hit Broadway in 2012–108 years after the original story had its first performance.

Cincinnati Landmark Productions does this story justice–and that is an understatement. This show is absolutely breathtaking and magical and will make any audience member young or old, believe in the magic of Peter Pan again. 

The Plot of Peter and the Starcatcher

Peter and the Starcatcher tells the story of the orphans. ‘Boy’ (Aaron Schilling) and his friends, Prentiss (Ben Miller-Jones) and Ted (Cody Combs) are sold into slavery for the king of Rundoon, a far off land where orphans are fed to snakes. Along this voyage is a magical chest full of ‘Star Stuff’, a fantastic substance that can make anyone who touches it into what they most desire. Their journey brings them face to face with some of the most whimsical and outlandish villains and monsters from mermaids to pirates, and vaguely Italian islanders called ‘Mollusks’. 

Peter and the Starcatcher at Warsaw Federal Incline Theatre
Cast of Peter and the Starcatcher at Warsaw Federal Incline Theatre. Photos by Tammy Cassesa.

Performances

The standout performance of the show is the intrepid female lead, Molly Aster (Zoe Zoller). One of the title characters, Zoe gives Molly an air of confidence, intelligence, and above all else an idealistic and genuine childlike wonder to her performance. She is alive and real, going from fighting pirates in once scene to speaking ‘Norweigan’ in the next with the ease of a seasoned actor. The rest of the cast is firing on all cylinders throughout the show. While there are ‘ensemble’ roles in this production, every cast member is unique and gives full life to every character they play. 

Peter and the Starcatcher at Warsaw Federal Incline Theatre
Cast of Peter and the Starcatcher at Warsaw Federal Incline Theatre

Production

The production design and direction of this show is magnificent. Directed by Stacy Searle, this world comes to life with whimsical blocking, lifting characters to simulate falling, handmade mermaid puppets, and much much more.

To describe the set would be difficult as it is both minimalist and maximalist at the same time. The story itself is presented as a fairy tale, with narrators coming in and out, when the story demands. The set matches this. A lot of the set and scenery is imagined, with the actual set recalling parts of an 18th century sailing ship. Wooden planks and rigging are strewn about the set, creating levels and platforms for characters to climb and run on. Bravo and kudos to the entire production team, but especially Lighting Designer Denny Reed and Scenic Designer Brett Bowling, and Costume Designers June Hill and Jesselee Whitson for their scenic work in making this story come to life on stage. 

It is a play with music, so kudos to Co-Director/Choreographer Zac Holman and Music Director Greg Dastillung. Fight Choreographer John Herndon adds the panache.

Peter and the Starcatcher at Warsaw Federal Incline Theatre
Cast of Peter and the Starcatcher at Warsaw Federal Incline Theatre

Conclusion: See Peter and the Starcatcher

If you love the story of Peter Pan, then you will love Peter and the Starcatcher. There is never a dull moment in this show. When I left the theater I noticed over 2 hours had passed. I honestly couldn’t believe it. I was entirely transported by the story, the scenery, the acting, and much more. You will be too.

Tickets to Peter and the Starcatcher

Do yourself a favor and make your way up the hill to the Warsaw Federal Incline Theatre. Catch the view and catch the show. Peter and the Starcatcher runs from July 10th to August 4th. Click HERE for planning your visit and tickets. Or Call (513) 241-6550 to Purchase by Phone.

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