Hooked on it: New Broadway tour of 'Peter and the Starcatcher' is prequel to 'Pan' story

2014-04-03T00:00:00Z Hooked on it: New Broadway tour of 'Peter and the Starcatcher' is prequel to 'Pan' storyBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

There's a reason Peter Pan's arch nemesis Captain Hook became the dapper pirate villain of the lagoons of Neverland, even before the infamous sea crocodile chomped off his left hand.

Broadway In Chicago is hosting an exclusive run this month for the new national tour of the five‐time Tony Award winning "Peter and the Starcatcher," written by Tony Award nominee Rick Elice and directed by Tony Award‐winner Roger Rees and Tony Award‐nominee Alex Timbers.

It opened Tuesday, April 2 and continues until April 13 at Bank of America Theatre, 18 West Monroe St. in Chicago.

"Peter and the Starcatcher" is billed as "a grown up's prequel to Peter Pan," staged as what producers describe as "an innovative and imaginative musical play based on the best‐selling novel by newspaper columnist Dave Barry with Ridley Pearson."

It stars a company of a dozen actors playing more than a hundred characters, all on a journey to answer the century‐old question: How did Peter Pan become The Boy Who Never Grew Up? Along the way, audiences are introduced to Captain Hook "before the hook," the Lost Boys, Mr. Smee and other noted names of Neverland.

Chicago actor Joey deBettencourt, a Northwestern University graduate who stars in the title role of the boy who becomes the spirited Peter Pan, said his casting good fortune still feels like a moment of audition magic.

"At the time this show was being developed for the national tour last year, I was auditioning for the Broadway tour of 'Once,' " said deBettencourt, during a telephone interview last week.

"But producers saw something from my audition that made them think I was a better fit for  the cast of this tour for 'Peter and the Starcatcher.' "

He said his mother, who teaches second grade reading, gave him her personal copy of "Peter and the Starcatcher" to study as he prepared for his role.

"We had three weeks in New York last summer to get the production ready before a week of tech and preview performances in Denver and then opening in August playing runs in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio," he said.

"This is a very carefully choreographed show, from the slapstick moments with the Lost Boys to the stunts we perform and the big opening scene of Act 2."

The play provides a backstory for the character Peter Pan, and serves as a prequel to J. M. Barrie's "Peter and Wendy." After a premiere in California, the play transferred to Off-Broadway in 2011 and opened on Broadway on April 15, 2012. The show ended its Broadway run on January 20, 2013, and reopened Off-Broadway once again at New World Stages in March 2013 and then ending in January 2014.

The two-and-a-half hour production is produced by Nancy Nagel Gibbs, Greg Schaffert, Eva Price, Tom Smedes and Disney Theatrical Productions. "Peter and the Starcatcher" is suitable for younger audiences, but most enjoyable for those ages 10 and older.

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