Menlo School Drama presents Peter and the Starcatcher

by Contributed Content on April 25, 2023

Adapted by Palo Alto’s own Rick Elice from Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s 2004 children’s novel, the Tony award-winning play with music, Peter and the Starcatcher, is the prequel to the famous novel and tells the story of how a nameless, angst-ridden orphan became the immortal Peter Pan, how Hook became Hook, how the Lost Boys became lost, how Tinker found her bell, and how Wendy never gave up hope.

Performances run Friday and Saturday, April 28-29 at 7:30 pm; Sunday, April 30 at 5:00 pm in Menlo School’s Spieker Center for the Arts, 50 Valparaiso Avenue, Atherton

This imagination-fueled production provides a humorous and fantastical backstory for the beloved character of Peter Pan and his arch-nemesis Captain Hook. We meet a poor orphaned child on the high seas simply called Boy because, in the absence of a mother and a father, he was never given a name. His sad and lonely world is turned upside down when he meets Molly. The daughter of famous Starcatcher Lord Astor, our heroine is on a mission to save the world and protect a treasure trunk filled with magical star stuff from getting into the hands of evil and greedy pirate Black Stache.

As they travel aboard the Neverland ship headed for a faraway land, Molly and Boy learn about love and friendship and forge an unbreakable bond. From marauding pirates and jungle tyrants to unwilling comrades and unlikely heroes, Peter and the Starcatcher playfully explores the depths of greed and despair… and the bonds of friendship, duty, and love.

“Theatre Magic is what drew me to Peter and the Starcatcher,” says Steven Minning, Director of Creative Arts and Upper School Drama. “When I first saw the show on Broadway in 2012, it was quite simply brilliant. It was bare-boned theater. With 12 actors playing 50 roles, there was never a moment without someone on the stage, and a handful of props: some ropes, a ladder, and two mysterious trunks. There’s an innocence about it that all of us identify with within our hearts — a bittersweet story/memory of our beginnings and where we’ve grown to be.”

Minning continues, “I chose this show because it’s about community. It’s about everyone coming together to create something magical.”

Charlie Hammond, a Menlo School junior who plays Black Stache in the production, added “It’s a really unique show and the most ensemble-focused show I’ve ever been in, which has been a fun challenge. We all really have to count on one another.”

Amory Healy, also a junior who plays Molly, continued, “We haven’t really ever done a production like this before at Menlo, so there is a bit of a culture shock switching into a show that gives everyone equal responsibility.”

Continuing the tradition of philanthropy, the Menlo Drama Department strives to ‘Give Back’ both on and off stage. Menlo Drama has raised more than $60,000 for nonprofit organizations, each chosen by the cast because its work resonates with a theme in the show. Menlo School’s production of Peter and the Starcatcher will support the National CASA/GAL Association for Children. Since the show deals with themes such as orphans and children looking for a “home,” the cast felt that their cause aligned beautifully with the show.

The National CASA/GAL Association for Children supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy for children and youth who have experienced abuse or neglect. CASA believes that every child should be given the opportunity to thrive in a safe and loving home, and try to maintain a sense of normalcy in the lives of children in the foster care system.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for students, available for advance purchase at Tickets are also available at the box office one hour before each performance.

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