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The Journal Gazette

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Sean Arata and Sloan Amburgey-Thomas star as Peter and Molly while Joel Grillo looks on in Arena Dinner Theatre's "Peter and the Starcatcher."  

  • Jordan Plohr, with knife, and Justin Dirig are among the cast of “Peter and the Starcatcher.”  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette "Peter and the Starcatcher" opens Friday at Arena Dinner Theatre.  

  • Brian Wagner, left, and Chip Davis are among the cast of “Peter and the Starcatcher.”  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Brian Wagner, kneeling left, Chip Davis and Sloan Amburgey-Thomas are among the cast of "Peter and the Starcatcher."  

  • Photos by Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Sean Arata and Sloan Amburgey-Thomas star as Peter and Molly in Arena Dinner Theatre’s “Peter and the Starcatcher.”  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Jordan Plohr, standing, Justin Dirig, with star, and Isaac Lengacher are among the cast of "Peter and the Starcatcher."  

Friday, November 24, 2017 1:00 am

Arena Dinner Theatre opens 'Peter and the Starcatcher'

If you go

What: “Peter and the Starcatcher”

When: Dinner at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m. today, Saturday and Dec. 1, 2, 8, 9, 15 and 16; 2 p.m. Dec. 10

Where: Arena Dinner Theatre, 719 Rockhill St.

Admission: $40; 424-5622 or ArenaDinnerTheatre.org

We know what eventually happens to Peter Pan and the other characters from his famous story – but how did they start out? That's what is explored in the comedy “Peter and the Starcatcher” opening today at Arena Dinner Theatre.

The prequel story focuses on Peter and Molly played by Sean Arata and Sloan Amburgey-Thomas, respectively. It includes songs, but it's not a musical, says director Gloria Minnich. She has a big job as the cast of 12 plays more than 100 characters, including narrators, pirates and mermaids in addition to their main roles.

“That's the biggest challenge, is keeping everything straight,” Minnich says.

The play is based on the book “Peter and the Starcatchers” by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson and was adapted for the stage by Rick Elice. The story is told in two acts, first aboard ships in the Victorian era and then aboard a tropical island after the ships wreck. By the end of the production, you've learned how Tinkerbell becomes Tinkerbell, how the Lost Boys become the Lost Boys, and so forth.

“They all have really interesting journeys,” Minnich says. She had seen the show on Broadway fell in love with the whimsical family-friendly tale.

She suggested the production to Arena Dinner Theatre, which usually does shows geared toward adults. Arena asked if she would be willing to direct it, and she said yes. The day the rights became available for community theaters, Arena acquired them.

All of the cast, except for Amburgey-Thomas, are men – even those that play women. The Broadway show assembled its cast in the same way because in the Victorian era – or even today, Minnich points out – it's not easy to be a woman out of your element in what is considered a man's world.

“When Molly is surrounded by all these men on a ship, she really has to be strong and stand up for what she believe in,” Minnich says. “So by making her the lone female actor in the show, it really sets the tone for how strong Molly is.”

– Corey McMaken, The Journal Gazette