Peter Pan not only won't grow up, he just won't go away. We've had Cathy Rigby flying around as the little green elf for about half a century on national tours. More recently Dallas Theater Center's new musical Fly let a young boy play the role in about as depressing a take on the J.M. Barrie classic as you could imagine (more death! more swamps!). Now there's Peter and the Starcatcher, a Tony-winning play doing a three-week stint at the Winspear Opera House.
Actor Joey deBettencourt, 26, plays Peter in a script by Rick Elice that makes this a "prequel" to the well-known Peter-Wendy-Pirates plot line. Presented in the style of a Victorian-era farce, with 11 actors and one actress playing all the roles, the show is a mishmash of broad comedy, fake British accents (hard to decipher even with the actors miked), psychological symbolism and design elements more cleverly wrought than the script. (The set by Donyale Werle is a marvel of recycled thingamabobs, though you can't see the details in the expanse of the Winspear.)
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No flying, however, and there's only a dash of music in a cute men-as-mermaids number at the top of Act 2 that'll remind you of "Nothing Like a Dame" from South Pacific. Captain Hook, called Black Stache here, is played with amusing, then tiresomely repetitive wrist-flapping, eye-rolling silliness by John Sanders. Way too much frenetic running around will guarantee that your patience with Peter and the Starcatcher will run out long before the curtain rings down at 10:35 p.m. Yes, this one sails the long way around to Neverland.