When we all look back upon our childhood memories, we think of all the fond fairy tale characters our parents, grandparents and teachers told us about. Be it from Cinderella to Snow White, from Hercules to Alice in Wonderland… one thing is for sure…when we think of them, we yearn to be a kid again.
And this is where our story begins. Have you ever wondered why the back-story of one of the most popular characters in fairy-tale history has never been told. We ask ourselves the lifelong question: who was this boy who never seemed to get older, and how did he come to live in the magical world that became known as Neverland. Yes, you’ve guessed it, I’m talking about the story before Peter Pan.
This week on 24th July 2016, I had the pleasure of attending a performance of Peter & the Star Catcher in Toronto. Bringing together the magic of the original novel by J.M Barrie, and the new, fresh prequel format by Rick Elice, were the talented, unique and energetic company of the Lower Ossington Theatre.
The play opens with Lord Leonard Aster (Kevin Doe), a recently knighted official of Queen Victoria, and whom on the docks of Portsmouth, is about to set sail for the kingdom of Rundoon. He has been appointed by her majesty to transport a mysterious wooden chest to the far off land; upon the fast, capable and sea-worthy ship, known as The Wasp.
Another ship is docked at the harbour also; a slower and more unfortunate vessel known as The Neverland. As both ships stand side by side, Lord Aster makes plans for his daughter Molly (Eliza Martin) and her nanny Mrs Bumbrake (Saphire Demitro) to board the Neverland and follow them to Rundoon, through a slower yet safer route.
It is during these emotional, but hopeful farewells that two major events occur. First, another chest is delivered in perfect timing to the decks. In fact, this chest is identical to first one in almost every way…apart from one minor detail. This trunk contains nothing but worthless sand. The swap occurs swiftly and without notice.
The second event to happen is the arrival of three orphan boys from St. Norbert’s Orphanage for “Lost Boys.” One of them is none other than the boy soon to become known as the legend that is Peter Pan (Nathaniel Kinghan). The three young boys are sold onto the Neverland, with the promise of a fulfilling life in Rundoon. The ship departs and…
Now, I must stop myself before I reveal the secrets of the show, but I must say it is quite a treat.
What follows includes Peter’s initial meeting with Molly aboard the Neverland, to the surprise introduction of the villains Pirate Black Stashe and Smee; who unknowingly are in pursuit of the wrong ship, in an effort to intercept the Queen’s chest. Cannon fire, swash-buckling sword fights, blossoming romances, hilarious mermaids and foot tappingly good show-tunes, are just a small glimpse of the magic in this play.
In all, the show is an enjoyable, fresh and worthy addition to an already well-established story. With every performing minute, I found myself discovering more of Peter’s back-story, the secret of what actually is in the trunk and most of all, how Peter became the boy who never grew old.
But none of this would be possible without the talents and determination of the entire cast, crew, choreographers and designers, as well as the front of house staff. I was very impressed with the cast’s fantastic acting, singing and dancing abilities from beginning to end…the Triple Threat as it is known in the world of theatre.
Nathaniel Kinghan played Peter perfectly, as he accurately portrayed his struggle of finding his true self outside the orphanage, his longing for some form of a family and his insistence on remaining young forever.
Molly, played by the ever talented Eliza Martin, was a true example of a rebellious teenager, and a girl ahead of her time; with her adventurous nature and leadership qualities in her role.
The comedy throughout the performance was what gave the play an even more enjoyable twist. If you weren’t laughing at Peter’s two orphaned companions bickering, you were giggling at the antics of Black Stashe and Smee. I found Jason Gray’s performance as Black Stashe to be both entertaining and extremely amusing. He proved himself to be a great comedic actor, with moments where I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.
But the star of the show undoubtedly has to be Bryden Rutherford. His character Smee had me chuckling from beginning to end. Bryden’s innate ability to draw the crowd in and make them laugh was quickly noticeable in each of his scenes. In the past, the character of Smee; in both book and film versions, never really appealed to me. Yet, after seeing Bryden perform, he clearly brought a new element to the role; inevitably making him my favourite character throughout.
So if you are looking for a giggle, a great day out with family and friends or even a new insight into the unknown, funny and heart warming story of a pre-neverland Peter Pan…then this one is for you.
Perfor,ances of the show will be running from Thursday 28th July – Sunday 28th August. Tickets can be purchased via the the theatre’s website: Click here to Purchase Tickets Online
They also can be purchased in person at the box office located at 100A Ossington Avenue, Toronto, M6J 2Z4.
A famous line in J.M Barrie’s Peter Pan novel is “Clap, if you believe in fairies.”
Now being the Entertainment Fairy myself; judging from the amount of clapping and cheering at the end of the show, this play is a real success, and proof that perhaps magic does indeed exist.