Lakewood Playhouse’s South Sound premiere of “Peter and the Starcatcher” is 2 1/2 hours of buffoonery with moments of tenderness that will remind you of every comedy bit you’ve ever seen, from Willy Wonka to Monty Python to Carol Burnett to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
It also calls to mind “Pirates of Penzance,” because there are pirates galore in the show, and because of director John Munn’s unique stylings recently seen in Lakewood Playhouse’s production of the musical.
This one is not a musical, but there's a lot of singing in it and, if not dancing, at least a lot of choreographed movement, particularly a lot of hilarious, overly histrionic posing in freeze-frame.
The one drawback to this ambitious undertaking is the story itself - the tale of Peter Pan before he became Peter Pan and Captain Hook before he lost his hand.
Based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson and adapted for the stage by Rick Elice, the story is a hodgepodge of loosely connected skits with no dramatic arc until the bare outline of a story appears in the second act. It starts out fall-on-the-floor funny but begins to drag in the second act. Some cuts would have helped, but copyright laws prevent that.
What the story lacks in cohesion is compensated for by outstanding acting on the part of the 13-member ensemble cast. It is a true ensemble, not a few leads backed up by an ensemble.
Nevertheless, some actors stand out, such as Kyle Sinclair as the sinister Black Stache. (Theatergoers will remember Sinclair for his standout role in “Avenue Q.”) This time he plays the epitome of all B-movie bad guys with grand gestures and comic timing worthy of the greatest of the old silent-movie stars.
Another is Emily Cohen, who plays the unnamed Boy, who eventually becomes Peter Pan, as a sweet, unaffected and brave young man. Cohen also is the show’s fight choreographer.
Kudos also to W. Scott Pinkston, who is over-the-top silly as the lovesick Alf, in love with the delightful Martin Larson, in drag throughout as Mrs. Bumbrake. And to Tony L. Williams (another “Avenue Q” alum) as the gruff and growly pirate Bill Slank and later as the dumber than dumb Hawking Clam.
Scenic designer Blake York does his usual primo job of designing a kind of rundown waterfront scene that looks deceptively tacked together with scrap lumber but is strong and serviceable. Lighting by Jacob Viramontes and Joy Ghigleri brilliantly enhance the fast-moving action.
Munn and his crew deserve maximum credit for pulling this mish-mosh together and somehow making it work.
Peter and the Starcatcher
When: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays, through April 22.
Where: Lakewood Playhouse, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd.
Infomation: 253-588-0042, www.lakewoodplayhouse.org.