― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
When we went to New York last summer we brought the kids to see Peter and the Starcatcher. It is a slightly altered version of Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson's Peter and the Starcatchers. I had read the book a few years ago and really enjoyed it, so when I saw that it had been made into a musical, I knew exactly what show we would see when we went out to the big apple. Nora (8) read the book last spring and really enjoyed it. Amelia (11) tried it once, but didn't get into it and moved on to something else. Maeve (5) can't read just yet, so the book hadn't made it onto her radar yet. I didn't much care what the children thought, I knew I would enjoy it and just had to hope that they would too.
The production is recommended for ages 10 and up, so I was a bit concerned that it might not be a great choice for our family. I didn't worry about Nora; as she had loved the book, and I didn't worry about Amelia since she's older and I figured the story would entertain even if she didn't want to spend time reading the book. It was Maeve I was concerned about. She's a kid who will tell you what she thinks. She's not necessarily quiet about it either. I read the reviews. I was still iffy. I visited the website. I was still unsure. Finally, I figured we'd go and hope that the twerp wouldn't be too vocal if she didn't like it. I found the audio book on the Arrowhead site and downloaded it. I figured we could listen to it on the way to New York and if everyone hated it, we could get tickets to something else.
From what I gathered by reading the reviews, this is a musical with less props than many of the other Disney stage productions. We saw Mary Poppins a couple years ago, so we know how elaborate they can be. It was also noted that many of the actors play more than one role. My husband and I saw Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps several years ago, so I knew actors playing several roles could be masterfully accomplished. The humor was found to be juvenile and at times confusing with it's 21st century punchlines in a story that is set in the time of Oliver Twist. There were mixed reviews on whether these aspects of the show hit or missed.
We didn't listen to all of the book on our drive, but we listened to enough that the kids could grasp at where the story was going. No one said anything about hating it, and that was enough for me to find the South Street Seaport TKTS booth and get the tickets. For all of our trips to NYC, we've gone to at least one show. We've always used the TKTS booth to get cheaper tickets. You may not find tickets for everything, but you can check the website to see what shows frequently have seats available at the booths. Since I don't have to see the same thing everyone else has to see, it works for me. It's a bit more of an adventure.
How was the show? Fabulous! There aren't all that many productions (really, 2/11) that I would see again, but I would love to see this one again. Maeve fell asleep shortly after intermission but, "I liked the part I saw". The other two thought it was great, and we all laughed a lot. Many of the jokes were juvenile and others were about things that would not have been found in Peter Pan's time, but it amused me tremendously. The actors moved seamlessly from one part to another. The lack of dramatic effects left room for our imaginations to fill in the blanks. It. Was. Awesome.
It's a slightly different story than the book, but there was a clue in the difference of the titles. Peter and the Starcatcher is the musical and Peter and the Starcatchers is the book. Slight difference in titles, bigger difference in story lines. In the same way that Wicked the book and Wicked the musical are different but both are good. You have to think of them as separate stories. I was fortunate enough to have read Starcatchers long enough ago that I didn't pick up on too many of the distinctions between the two. The girls recognized the differences between the two, but it didn't seem to bother them at all. Maybe that's something you lose as you get older. I have to forget one version before I'm exposed to another.
It's been a couple of months since we saw Peter and the Starcatcher. Nora started the second book not long before school started. She's now onto the fourth in the Starcatcher series and it's often that she'll exclaim aloud while she's reading. Naturally, she then has to share what she's read even though I haven't read any but the first in the series. When I'm confused about what she's excited about she tells me that I should just read the rest of the books. I suppose I should do that. They're pretty thick books, but I don't think they'll take all that long to read.
If you're fortunate enough to get to visit New York City before the final Broadway performance on January 20th, I highly recommend you take this one in. The show is planning a tour, but no dates have been announced yet that I can find. If seeing a theatrical production is out of your price range, go to your local library and get the book by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. The best part of the book is that it doesn't end after just a couple hours. There are four books after the first one.