ALBANY — At the intermission of Sunday’s matinee, I overheard a woman say to a friend, “Yes, I like it. You just go with it.”
That was a succinct and accurate description of my reaction to Act 1 of “Peter and the Starcatcher,” being given a delightfully winking performance by the forces at Albany Civic Theater. You don’t know exactly what kind of play you’re seeing, but the script is so clever and the production so polished that you simply go with the flow.
Unfortunately, the script goes south halfway through Act 2 as Rick Elice, working from a novel by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson, tries to cobble together a satisfying explanation for how Peter Pan became Peter Pan. The last 15 minutes are a chore.
But the goodwill built up by the company and the expert tech crew, all under Brian Sheldon’s playful direction (with an able assist from Melanie Douglas), is enough to make you stay put.
The 12-member ensemble plays multiple parts, breaks the fourth wall, cross-dresses, sings (incidental music by Wayne Barker), dances, and otherwise acts goofy in providing the back story (with deep apologies to J.M. Barrie — or maybe not?) of the boy who never really wanted to grow up.
On a marvelous set by Adam M. Coons, who is also a laugh riot as Smee, right-hand man — er, assistant — to Black Stache (Evan Jones), the forerunner of Captain Hook, they cavort and act without shame. Deo gratias. David Caso is the lighting guru; Barry Streifert has provided an apt sound design; Beth Ruman has dressed them for maximum guffaws; Cece Widomski has kept the whole thing from descending into chaos with stern…
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