ABILENE — For actor Sean McCall, there’s nothing like playing a good old-fashioned villain, especially the pirate who would become the infamous Captain Hook.
Yet in the play “Peter and the Starcatcher,” Hook is not yet the Hook of “Peter Pan” fame — in fact, at the start of the play he has both of his hands and goes by the colorful name of Black Stache.
It doesn’t make him less of a hissable villain, though.
“He’s so deliciously evil, so in love with himself,” said McCall, who also is artistic director of the Old Creamery Theatre Company in Amana, Iowa. “I like playing over the top anyway, and there’s a lot of fun stuff to sink my teeth into.”
“Peter and the Starcatcher,” based on the books by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1, 2, 7, 8, 9 and at 2 p.m. Dec. 3, 5, 6, 10 at Great Plains Theatre, 401 Cottage in Abilene. Tickets are from $15 to $32.50.
For more information, call 785-263-4574 or visit http://greatplainstheatre.com.
This sort-of prequel to the beloved children’s tale “Peter Pan” is based on a series of books written by humorist Dave Barry and thriller novelist Ridley Pearson. The convoluted plot focuses on a young orphan — destined to become Peter Pan — and his mates who are snatched from their Victorian England home and taken to a mysterious island ruled by the evil King Zarboff, who wants to feed the boys to his hungry snakes.
The boys are discovered by Molly, a Starcatcher in training who realizes that a mysterious trunk in the captain’s cabin contains a precious cargo called “starstuff,” a celestial substance so powerful it must never fall into the wrong hands. When the ship is taken over by pirates led by Black Stache and his lackey Smee, the journey turns into a thrilling, comic adventure.
“It can be enjoyed by anyone who doesn’t know Peter Pan because it functions as its own cool story,” McCall said. “But if you know ‘Peter Pan,’ you’ll go, ‘Oh, that’s where THAT happens.’”
The play, which also has music and songs but is not quite a musical, features a cast of 11 men and one woman. Cast members play dozens of characters and help narrate the story, which is full of anachronistic dialogue, pop culture references, poetry, gentle lyricism and poop jokes.
Randall West, director of the production and artistic director of Great Plains Theatre, said all the major components of “Peter Pan” have their skewed origins in “Peter and the Starcatcher,” including Neverland Island, the Lost Boys, the flying fairy Tinkerbell, the craven lackey Smee and Black Stache, who is not the best pirate around and ends up losing his hand by his own hand.
“Black Stache wants to be a terrific villain but wants to find an equal hero to be the yin to his yang,” West said. “The Boy, who is literally called ‘The Boy,’ eventually becomes Peter Pan, but he has to learn to be a hero from Molly, who is an example of a totally brave hero.”
Molly, who is destined to become Mrs. Darling, the mother of Wendy from “Peter Pan,” is a role coveted by actresses, said Kate Wolfe, who plays the role in the Great Plains Theatre production.
“She’s a female protagonist who’s confident, smart and doesn’t have to mold to society’s standards,” Wolfe said. “I think she’s a wonderful role model for young girls.”
Part of the fun of the show in addition to the adventuresome story and colorful characters, West said, is the imaginative staging possibilities. The original Broadway production — financed by Disney — was a deliberately low-budget spectacle that relied on suggestion and storytelling rather than expensive set pieces.
“The set is boxes and step units,” West said. “A crocodile is made with two ladders, LED lights and umbrellas. Two ships are made out of different parts of the set. This kind of creativity and make-believe is something that appeals to the child in all of us, and it’s been fun getting the absolute creative most out of this show.”