Summer might be ending but there is still campy fun to be found with "Peter and the Starcatcher" at MusicalFare.
Magical from the starry top to its blustery bottoms, a school-age audience member said it was "amazing."
Even those who are less dazzled will find the Tony-winning "Starcatcher" to be one of those guilty pleasures where everyone is in on the joke.
The show -- a comedy-drama gumbo of high adventure, bawdy humor, British fortitude and seafaring cross-dressing -- also is generous, giving every person in a theater company a chance to shine, and shine they do.
The cast is sizable (although with only one female role) and makes for a jolly crew. They deftly handle an abundance of interwoven silly wordplay and footwork thanks to director Chris Kelly. The costume and hair and makeup design by Kari Drozd and Susan Drozd alone are worth the ticket price, particularly during the world's most incredible mermaid jamboree.
The other Chrises backstage, Chris Cavanagh and Chris Schenk, are the lighting and set designers who send the action out on two ships and keep us rolling in illusion all the way to the tropical isle that becomes Neverland.
Don't expect a lot of songs about not growing up and so on. Peter's name is in the title but the story is more about the "star stuff" that created him, the stuff that everyone is after.
Luckily, it turns out that the actors already have it. Steve Copps, a MusicalFare regular, apparently soaked in the stuff before becoming the flamboyant villain Black Stache. The Stache is one of those delectable theatrical personas whose teeth were designed intentionally to chew up the scenery. Copps pirates his style here from "Rocky Horror's" Tim Curry, putting the swash in every buckle of his britches to delirious effect.
But he meets his match in Anthony Alcocer, playing three roles: the duplicitous, demented Captain Slank (a close relative of Jack Sparrow), the murderous indigenous chief Fighting Prawn, and the ridiculous sidekick Sanchez.
Much credit goes to the pirate crew members who keep up with them without cracking up: Jordan Levin as the nanny Mrs. Bumbrake, delivering bawdy lines with a wink; Kevin Craig as Smee, a perfect foil for Stache; Jacob Albarella as the lovesick Alf, smitten by Mrs. Bumbrake and afflicted with bad exhaust; and Philip Farugia, who also is music director, and Bobby Cooke, are everywhere they are needed.
Renee Landrigan is spunky young Molly, the moral compass of this otherwise rudderless crew. She will do anything to protect the star stuff, even if it means getting help from the three lost boys, geeky Prentiss, energetically played by Daniel Torres; the ever-hungry Ted, made lovable by Preston D. Williams, and Jesse Tiebor, strong and defiant as the unhappy no-name boy who becomes Peter Pan. Doug Weyand is the grownup, quickly dispatched as Captain Scott.
Although "Peter and the Starcatcher" is called "A Grownup's Prequel to Peter Pan," older kids and teens would like it, too. They might, like Peter Pan, miss some of the jokes -- Ayn Rand references, or native peoples speaking an indigenous Italian restaurant dialect -- but they may be better at deciphering "TTFN" than the old folks.
It's all in good fun and well-worth caching.
"Peter and the Starcatcher"
★ ★ ★ ★ (out of 4)
A comic prequel to J.M Barrie's classic children's tale about pixie dust, Neverland and a boy who never grows up. Through Oct. 8 at MusicalFare, 4380 Main St. at Daemen College. Approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes. Tickets are $44. Call 839-8540 or visit musicalfare.com.