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Theatre / Peter and the Starcatcher

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Peter and the Starcatcher is a play by Rick Elice that is based on the 2004 novel Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. The play premiered in 2009 in California at the La Jolla Playhouse and opened on Broadway in 2012. It was nominated for 9 Tony Awards and won 5.

The play provides the backstory for several characters from James M. Barrie's Peter Pan, including Peter, Hook, and Tinker Bell.

Peter and the Starcatcher provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Peter Pan himself. The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up begins his adventure as an abused, traumatized, and misanthropic orphan who only wants a chance to live the childhood stolen away from him by the terrible adults in his life.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Most of Betty Bumbrake's lines involve this.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Black Stache has this in spades, especially when portrayed by Christian Borle. He's outright described in the text as being "effeminate", and he acts very much Camp Gay, on top of not seeming too fond of women and being very touchy with some of the other men (most notably Smee and Lord Aster).
    • It's also worth noting that in response to Stache asking what "the men" call him, Smee responds with "Nancy", which is an old-fashioned slang term for an effeminate man, but it generally referred to homosexuals.
  • Anachronism Stew: Though the play takes place in 1885, the dialogue includes many anachronisms used for comedic effect, including use of the acronym 'TTFN', references to the Cadillac Escalade, Ayn Rand, Marcel Proust and Philip Glass, among others. Curiously, the vast majority of the anachronisms present are made by Black Stache.
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  • An Arm and a Leg: This is something of a Foregone Conclusion, since Black Stache is destined to become Captain Hook.
  • Badass Mustache: Black Stache is named for his.
  • Big Bad: While not the only threat present, Black Stache serves as the main villain.
  • Big "OMG!": Black Stache, when he loses his hand. Bonus points for the sheer number of OMGs dropped, going from pain to rapid-fire to valley girl to an entire faux talk-show anecdote to "ermahgerd" to more pain to a few really big ones at the end.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Black Stache observes that the people in the audience "have paid for nannies and parking".
  • Canon Character All Along: Besides the obvious, Molly Aster is revealed at the very end of the play to be Wendy Darling's mother.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Black Stache.
  • Child Hater: Black Stache.
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  • Chorus Girls: The mermaids' Vaudeville-style song-and-dance number at the beginning of the second act often parodies this.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Black Stache tries to claim Peter made him, but Peter points out that Stache cut off his own hand. Additionally, Black Stache was already a ruthless pirate long before he met Peter.
    • The reverse is true for Black Stache though. After cutting off his own hand, he then tries to recruit the crocodile by luring it join him by feeding it one of his detached fingers. We don't see the results, but given the original story, we can easily assume that the crocodile develops a taste for Stache and stalks him trying to get more.
    • Also, in a much smaller example, Black Stache gives Peter his first name, making him responsible for both of their future namesakes.
  • Cross-Cast Role: Mrs. Bumbrake and Teacher are both played by the same male actor. Additionally, with the exception of Peter, every member of the ensemble is to appear as mermaids. And considering Molly is the only actress, that means all but two actors play a character of the opposite sex.
    • Additionally, some productions will cast additional women outside of Molly, meaning that the mermaid scene may be the only time a cast member is actually playing their real sex.
  • Deuteragonist: Peter is the main character, but Molly and Black Stache get plenty to do, and their development is equally important.
  • Ensemble Cast: While Peter, Molly, and Black Stache are clearly the largest parts, the Loads and Loads of Characters played by this small cast, the actors narrating when their role isn't present in the scene, and working as stage hands throughout means that everyone is constantly onstage doing something important.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Black Stache.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Lampshaded by Black Stache in his first scene, where he admits that he seems nice right before threatening to murder Lord Aster.
  • Friendless Background: Both Molly and the Boy, as laid out in the opening scene.
  • Friendly Enemy: Black Stache is desperate to find a hero to serve as his Arch-Enemy, so when he believes he's found one, he becomes overjoyed and acts quite affable.
  • Green Rocks: As in the original novel, starstuff can do whatever magical thing the plot demands, including making people fly, extending life, and transforming ordinary animals into mythological creatures.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: Molly and her father communicate privately in Dodo, Porpoise and Norse code (a system used by ancient Vikings that is similar to Morse code).
  • I Ate WHAT?!: Ted realizes they've been fed worms.
  • In My Language, That Sounds Like...: Molly's name means "Squid Poop" in the Mollusks' language.
  • Irrelevant Act Opener: The mermaids open the second act with a Vaudeville-style song-and-dance number.
  • Leader Wannabe: Prentiss declares himself to be the leader of the orphans, because he is the oldest. But he never actually leads.
  • Loads and Loads of Roles: The show is written for a dozen actors who portray more than a hundred characters.
  • MacGuffin: The trunk of starstuff.
  • Made a Slave: Fighting Prawn's backstory.
  • The Nameless: Boy, who eventually takes the name Peter.
  • Obsessed with Food: Ted, who faints at the mere mention of sticky pudding.
  • Orphanage of Fear: St. Norbert’s Orphanage for Lost Boys.
  • Pirate: Much of the cast. It is a prequel to Peter Pan, after all.
  • The Smurfette Principle: The actress who plays Molly is usually the only female cast member.
    • This is averted in terms of actual characters though, as there's also Ms. Bumbrake among the principle cast. And then there's the mermaids, including Teacher, played by the same actor as Ms. Bumbrake.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Boy and Molly, because he becomes immortal and she is forced to leave him behind in Neverland, returning to England where she will eventually get married. As Boy's character description puts it: "If he could grow up, he'd fall for Molly in a big way. But it'll never happen."

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