Student-run Production of 'Peter and the Starcatcher' Promises Innovative Performances
By Maura Kolhonen '18 | Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Maura Kolhonen '18
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Running November 2 through November 4, the UMass Theatre Guild presents Peter and the Starcatcher in Bowker Auditorium. Inspired by the popular children’s novel Peter and the Starcatchers, the play acts as a prequel to the timeless story of Peter Pan. Peter and the Starcatcher follows the orphaned Boy as he gets swept up in an adventure with his precocious new friend, Molly Aster, to protect a trunk full of secret treasure.
Co-directors Mary Margaret Hogan ‘18, an English and theater major, and Smith College student Henry Waletzko ‘18 have worked with a cast of 14 for just over a month to bring their vision of the play to fruition. Combining elements from different kinds of theater, Peter and the Starcatcher has provided a unique experience for the directors and actors alike. Waletzko explained, “Starcatcher exists outside of the traditional categories of straight play and musical theater. It’s kind of it’s own thing, but it draws from all kinds of styles to create something entirely new. It’s also an ensemble piece at it’s core, as our cast uses their bodies and various props to create the scenery around each moment.”
“This show is a beast” Hogan added. “When Henry and I tackled this project, we knew it was unlike anything we’ve ever been a part of before. You cannot have this production without collaboration and we are so privileged to work with such an innovative cast, production team, and crew. Imagination takes you far in this show and we all were able to explore the deeper themes in this text, flesh them out, but also have so much fun along the way.”
Although Hogan and Waletzko took some inspiration from the original Broadway production, they have worked to make the UMass Theater Guild’s production uniquely theirs, specifically through textual analysis and thematic exploration. Hogan expressed that they have been “constantly seeking out new ways to deepen the ingenuity and cleverness embedded within [Peter and the Starcatcher].” Waletzko also noted that throughout the process, they “played with themes of gender and time to gain a new understanding of the text of the script, as well as the Peter Pan frame story.”
The UMass Theatre Guild is a registered student organization (RSO) on the UMass campus, so their production of Peter and the Starcatcher is entirely student run. Playing the role of Boy, theater and early childhood education double major Helen Woods ‘18 discussed the collaborative nature of the rehearsal process, as well as in the Theater Guild overall. “I love the spirit of teamwork that the Guild fosters—everyone is an equally important part of this process, no matter what," they said. Mary Margaret and Henry are intelligent and creative directors, and they allow the cast to have a voice throughout the process, which is definitely refreshing as an actor. I love the feeling of community that working on this show, and being in the Guild, has brought me.”
Woods is excited for audiences to see this production, stating that “The show is going to be so fun and engaging to audiences—I can’t wait to see their reactions.” When asked about who should see this show, Waletzko expressed, “The beauty of Peter and the Starcatcher is that I really believe there is something in it for everyone.”
“For many, the act of growing up is so strenuous and so difficult that we end up sacrificing a part of ourselves,” Hogan conveyed. “This show gave our cast, production team, and crew the unique opportunity to revisit childhood aspirations, imagine and create, and allowed ourselves a space outside of the stresses of our everyday lives to escape to Neverland. The biggest thing this process has taught our team is about the beauty and the magic that can come from allowing yourself time outside of your everyday life to just play, and I hope that message reaches audiences, as well.”
Peter and the Starcatcher runs November 2-4 at 7:00 p.m. in Bowker Auditorium with an additional matinee performance on November 4 at 1:00 p.m. Tickets are $12 general admission, $8 for students and seniors, and $6 for children 17 and under who attend any performance wearing a costume. Tickets are available online and at the door. More information can be found at the UMass Theater Guild's facebook page.