Review: ‘Peter and the Star Catcher’ hooks fans at the Zig

from left, Wyatt Welch and Jessica Lewis. Photo: Ziegfeld Theater

OGDEN, Utah, Aug. 12, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — As summer sprints toward an inevitable end, who wouldn’t welcome a brief excursion to Neverland?

It’s as easy as buying a ticket to “Peter and the Star Catcher,” playing at Ogden’s Ziegfeld Theater on Fridays and Saturdays through Sept. 2, with one Monday show late this month.

The play serves as a prequel to the story of Peter Pan, offering explanations as to how a mortal boy became an immortal juvenile, how Hook came to have his namesake appendage, and how the whole flying thing got started.

The story is narrated by actors, addressing the audience as the action unfolds, backed by live music.

Wyatt Welch stars as the orphan boy who will be Pan, but first he needs confidence, bravery and a name. The script, which is goofy and fun, is sprinkled with obscure and erudite references (Ayn Rand, anyone?).

As dictated by the script, the future Pan is withdrawn and unremarkable as the show starts, but grows into a character worth watching.

Playing opposite Welch is Jessica Lewis, as Molly, 13, on a serious and potentially dangerous mission with her father. That mission is also what puts her in the path of thieving pirates and three captive orphan boys whose fate would be sealed without an intervention from apprentice star catcher Molly.

Lewis, talented and engaging, brings the role to life with earnestness and warmth.

Trent Cox is mesmerizing as Black Stache, the future Captain Hook. This pirate — while mildly foppish and vain, sleek and fumbling, intelligent and foolish — has a commanding stage presence and great comic timing. It’s hard to look anywhere else when Trent Cox’s Black Stache is onstage.

Among the supporting characters, playing nanny Mrs. Bumbrake, is always the fetching Andrew Cole, who in the Zig’s “Hairspray” played Tracy’s divine mother, Edna. Cole knows how to get an audience laughing, and his full, bushy beard only adds to the comedy of him playing a woman in love.

Add to that a merry crew of pirates, sailors, island natives, with actors changing roles and costume pieces, deftly moving the action forward.

And the whole production is directed and choreographed by Jim Christian, former head of Weber State University’s musical theater program, to which many Utahns might just respond, “Why didn’t you say so in the first place?” Christian’s reputation for quality theater is widespread and well deserved.

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