Ever wonder what went on in Neverland before the Darling children arrived? The Cabaret Theater’s newest production, “Peter and the Starcatcher,” covers that very subject. Adapted for the stage by Rick Elice from a 2004 novel by author Ridley Pearson and comedian Dave Barry, this play delivers the poignant and humorous backstory behind the well-loved characters in Disney’s “Peter Pan.”
Senior Cedric Gegel, who portrays the main antagonist, said that Disney originally commissioned the novel to be converted to the stage. Once converted, the play won five Tony Awards, including Best Play. Once the performance rights were up for purchase, Capital University’s Cabaret Theater jumped at the chance to buy.
“We’re one of the first non-professional productions of [the play],” Gegel said, “… it’s a very new, fresh play.”
Gegel added that, in addition to the humor of the play, it is important to keep the dark themes alive during the show.
“It’s a very magical show… but also, it’s dark,” Gegel said of the plot of the production.
Gegel feels that he and the other actors are more than capable of conveying the themes necessary to engage the audience. While it is a challenge for actors to maintain the childlike wonder of Peter Pan while illustrating such heavy themes, Gegel feels that he and the cast are more than prepared for the challenge.
“All of us as actors have really bought into this sense of wonder,” He said of his fellow cast members, who he also described as “crazy-talented.”
In addition to the prowess of the actors, Gegel cites a minimalistic set design as another key to success.
“We don’t have an extravagant set,” Gegel said. “There’s scenes in a jungle, and we didn’t build a bunch of trees [or] bring in tigers. We see the jungle… and we are amazed and terrified of the jungle… That’s what sells it.”
Another driving force behind the Cabaret’s development of “Peter and the Starcatcher” is the director, Bill Kennedy, who Gegel claims is “a Peter Pan aficionado.”
Kennedy, who is a communications professor and the director of theater at Capital, has been behind numerous productions much like “Peter and the Starcatcher.”
When asked why this specific play was chosen for this time of year, Kennedy cited several reasons.
“Ever since I was very young, I’ve always liked the Peter Pan story,” he said. “This play came out in New York… and I really liked the script.”
Kennedy and Dan Heaton acquired the rights for the play in April of 2016.
“I like it for the time we’re doing it,” Kennedy said, “because people are getting ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it has such a family feel.”
Despite having songs during the production, Kennedy claims that it is not a musical but rather a play with music.
As first semester draws to a close, the Cabaret theater hopes to end on a high note with “Peter and the Starcatcher.” Opening night is Thursday, Nov. 17, and the audience should be prepared for a great show. According to Gegel, “there isn’t an actor in the show who isn’t … extremely talented.”