We all know the way to Neverland. (In case you’ve forgotten: second star to the right and straight on ’til morning.)
But how did Peter Pan first find his way?
Ah, therein lies a tale — one “Peter and the Starcatcher” recounts with zany, fractured-fairy tale delight.
Making its regional premiere at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, this Tony-winning “Peter Pan” boasts a decidedly 21st-century vibe, mixing elements from its classic source with a grab-bag of anachronisms, puns, pratfalls, merry melodies and other inspired silliness.
For all the madcap comedy, though, there’s real pain at the heart of this “Peter” — and the realization that, for some, being a boy is hardly a dream come true.
That’s certainly the case for three orphans adrift in Victorian England — lost boys who find themselves aboard the good ship Neverland, bound for the make-believe realm of Rundoon.
Prentiss (Chris Klopatek) has delusions of grandeur, while all Ted (Matt Zambrano) dreams of is food, glorious food. As for the one they call Boy (a wary, scrappy Rhett Guter), he wants nothing and no one.
Until he encounters someone who awakens his adventurous spirit: dauntless Molly Aster (take-charge Betsy Mugavero), daughter of a royal minister who oversees a powerful substance known as starstuff.
Also in hot pursuit of said starstuff: the dread pirate Black Stache (Quinn Mattfeld, so uproariously over-the-top he makes Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow look positively comatose by comparison).
In spinning this captivating yarn, playwright Rice Elice (adapting Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s novel) wittily employs devices from spoken narrative to song-and-dance, referencing everything from Shakespeare to Starbucks in the process.
And director Brian Vaughn proves a capital captain for this inventive odyssey, charting an energetic course as his cast members switch roles, bring simple props to life — would you believe a broom vs. toilet plunger duel? — and caper about with irresistible glee. (They’re aided immeasurably by Jo Winiarski’s storybook sets, Jaymi Lee Smith’s lighting, Samuel Clein’s musical direction and Kevin Copenhaver’s splendiferous costumes.)
Things may get a bit too poke-in-the-ribs boisterous at random moments. (A little starstuff goes a long way.) But with a voyage this fanciful, this fantastical, it’s best to dismiss such quibbles and climb aboard.
Contact reporter Carol Cling at ccling@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272.