Make us your home page

Freefall brings back 'Peter and the Starcatcher,' along with its more famous cousin, 'Peter Pan'

The cast of Peter Pan rehearses at Freefall Theatre in St. Petersburg. The show will run on alternating weekends through Jan. 29.


The cast of Peter Pan rehearses at Freefall Theatre in St. Petersburg. The show will run on alternating weekends through Jan. 29.


As carols ring and sleigh bells sing through department store speakers mounted in the ceiling, one local theater has taken a slightly different path.

Freefall Theatre, which last year treated children and adults to a soldout run of Peter and the Starcatcher, is reprising that show along with the original play that inspired it, Peter Pan. Both shows will run through January, alternating prime billing on weekends.

On several Saturdays during the run, you can see both plays, starting with a 2 p.m. matinee.

Chris Crawford played Black Stache, the pirate king in last year's production of Peter and the Starcatcher, a prequel in which an adolescent Peter is forced to choose between a girl and eternal youth.

The writers who developed Peter and the Starcatcher understood the best villains are a little vainglorious, and wrote the Captain Hook corollary with a lot of pizzazz.

"Who am I?" he asks in an imperious moment, a phrase made famous by Leonard Bernstein, whose song, (Who Am I?) helped define the 1950 musical Peter Pan, one of many derivative works out of J.M. Barrie's 1904 play.

During a recent rehearsal break, Crawford, 35, recalled a favorite moment from last year's run.

"I was saying, 'Who am I?' And a kid in the front row yells out, 'Black Stache!'

"And I thought, 'How amazing!' "

Barrie, he noted, developed stories by telling them to children, then asking kids to narrate the story back to him in their own words.

"He wanted everyone to have a childlike imagination," said Crawford, one of five actors in Starcatcher to return.

As for doing the shows in repertory, he said, "I think it's a great idea, and children and adults are going to love it."

More than a century separates the 1904 play and its prequel, which began as a 2004 novel by humorist Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, then was adapted to the stage by Rick Elice. Peter and the Starcatcher debuted in 2009 and opened on Broadway in 2012.

Eric Davis, Freefall's producing artistic director, directs Peter Pan . Crawford directs Peter and the Starcatcher.

"They are two different plays written 100 years apart," Davis said. "But audiences will be surprised at actually how much they share."

Both plays can be whimsical, funny or poignant, Davis said. "Both have melancholy moments that relate to the loss of childhood's innocence, both literally and figuratively, delving into things like war, deception and grief, and many other serious topics both obvious and not so obvious. Both plays can be enjoyed by children, but both plays can be enjoyed by adults on myriad levels, depending on how deeply the individual is willing to look."

Both plays have musical scores, the music for Starcatcher written by Wayne Barker. Freefall's Peter Pan comes with a bonus: a score by musical director Michael Raabe, including several songs.

Raabe said he tried to vary the pace — there's a pirate number and a mermaid song reminiscent of the swing dancing era.

"I didn't want it to feel too modern," Raabe said. The score also tugs at the same conflicts that characterize the play, in what Raabe called "a yearning ballad about finding home and finding my world."

All of which sounds like it ought to be plenty merry enough. Besides, aren't the holidays supposed to be about unwrapping new things?

Contact Andrew Meacham at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248. Follow @torch437.

>>If you go

Peter Pan, Peter and the Starcatcher

Peter Pan and Peter and the Starcatcher run on alternating weekends through Jan. 29 at Freefall Theatre, 6099 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. A 10 p.m. "talkback" between creative staff and audience follows the Dec. 23 performance of Peter Pan. $25-$52. (727) 498-5205.

Freefall brings back 'Peter and the Starcatcher,' along with its more famous cousin, 'Peter Pan' 12/15/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 20, 2016 12:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Cast up to the challenge in Richey Suncoast's 'How the Other Half Loves'


    Theater has many plays where there are two completely different apartments depicted on the stage, usually split down the middle, one on the right, one on the left.

    "How the Other Half Loves" runs weekends through Oct. 29 at Richey Suncoast Theatre in New Port Richey. Cast members are Christine Stoll and  David Daly (in front) and Bob Marcela, Heather Clark, Mike Worssell and Blake Parker (in back, from left). [Photo by Jess Glass]
  2. Review: Excellent cast delivers entertaining production of 'Young Frankenstein' at Stage West


    I went to see the musical comedy Young Frankenstein at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill with some trepidation. I had seen a very good production of the show at another theater a couple of years ago, and I was concerned that I would subconsciously compare the two to the detriment of one or the …

    "Young Frankenstein" plays weekends through Oct. 29 at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill. Keith Surplus, left, performs as Igor and Lynda Dilts-Benson, right, as Frau Blucher. [Photo by Carol Ballard]
  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Oct. 23-29


    R. L. Stine: It's fitting that the week before Halloween, USF's Lecture Series features the popular horror author known for the Goosebumps series. Stine will discuss his career, creative process and sign books Wednesday at the Marshall Student Center in Tampa. Free. .

    ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 09: Singer Anthony Hamilton performs onstage at the 2014 Ford Neighborhood Awards Hosted By Steve Harvey at the Phillips Arena on August 9, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Moses Robinson/Getty Images for Ford Neighborhood Awards)
  4. Seasoned cast scores an extra-base hit for St. Petersburg Opera with 'Faust'


    TAMPA — Charles Gounod's Faust sets the table early. The world-weary philosopher immortalized in a dramatic poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is in his study, lamenting his state of affairs. He's willing to give away everything he has to be young again, even his soul.

    The St. Petersburg Opera Company begins its season with Faust, in a production seemingly aligned with the original intent of French composer Charles Gounod and librettists Jules Barbier and Michel Carre. [St. Petersburg Opera Company]
  5. Blake High grad Taylor Trensch lands lead role in 'Dear Evan Hansen' on Broadway


    For those who saw Taylor Trensch grow up in Tampa, his rise from promising student to star is heartwarming and entirely predictable. In January, Trensch, 28, will be moving into the title role of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway, one of the hottest tickets in theater.

    Taylor Trensch, a 2007 Blake High graduate, will play the title role in Broadway's Dear Evan Hansen. Courtesy of Frank Trensch.