REVIEW: “Peter and the Starcatcher: The Annotated Script of the Broadway Play” by Rick Elice

If you’ve never seen Peter and the Starcatcher, the stage adaptation of Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s popular Peter and the Starcatchers series, then you absolutely need to. Even if it’s been ten years since its Broadway debut. Telling the story of how Peter Pan became the boy who never grew up, Peter and the Starcatcher follows three orphans as they get wrapped up in a swashbuckling tale of pirates, English nobility, and Starstuff. I’ve never read Barry and Pearson’s original Starcatchers series, so I can’t speak to how faithfully the play adapts the novel. But as a fan of J.M. Barrie’s original Peter Pan play, Peter and the Starcatcher just makes my heart sing. If you ever wondered how Captain Hook lost his hand, how Peter Pan got his name, and how Neverland came to be, then this is the story for you. But better than that, it’s a genuinely emotional, heartbreaking look at friendship and at growing up. It’s a gut-bustingly funny, thrilling, and heartfelt love letter to the theater. And to say any more about the story would ruin some of the fun.

Peter and the Starcatcher: The Annotated Script of the Broadway Play
Written by: Rick Elice
The hilarious script for the Broadway play Peter and the Starcatcher is presented along with commentary by the playwright, the directors, the composer, the set designer, and our own Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Filled with behind-the-scenes information and photos of the cast and crew, this annotated script will enchant and entertain fans of the book and the play alike.

If you can’t see the play, though, reading Rick Elice’s script is a pretty solid alternative. Unlike many scripts, Elice’s Peter and the Starcatcher conjures a representation of what’s happening on stage that feels both accurate and entertaining. While reading his script, you never feel like you’re missing out on something. Sure, you lose the fantastic performances and the simple-yet-breathtaking stage trickery, but reading the script still feels like a complete experience. A large part of this comes down to the play’s liberal usage of narration, bouncing back and forth between characters and flowing almost like an uninterrupted train of thought. Elice’s script, and the play itself, are a love letter to the power of the written word, to the emotional truth of oral storytelling. So, it’s easy to lose yourself in these characters breaking the fourth wall to describe a big naval race, or a sword fight, or a giant, flying crocodile. Elice’s script gives you all you need to visualize what’s going on. And more than that, it invites you to be an active participant in the story. To bring your imagination to the page, and conjure all of these images. It’s a genuinely magical experience – both on stage and on the page.

What makes this particular edition of the script interesting is all of the extra behind-the-scenes material present throughout. The book is heavily illustrated with pictures from the Broadway production and concept art from the show’s earlier days. And there are some deleted and rewritten scenes presented at the end of the book, showing how some of the play’s scenes evolved over the years. But the biggest draw, as the book’s title suggests, are the annotations. Annotated by Elice, Barry, Pearson, and several other members of the show’s creative team, they offer a neat peek behind the curtain, if you will. Not all of them are as illuminating as you’d like, though. And many of them contain some pretty big spoilers for later scenes in the play – so this edition probably isn’t for those who’ve never seen or read the play. But if you’re a fan of Peter and the Starcatcher, these glimpses behind-the-scenes are as informative as they are valuable. Honestly, more shows should release books like this.

At the end of the day, everyone should experience Peter and the Starcatcher in one way or another. While seeing a live production of it is always the way to go, the script is so well-written that it easily stands on its own. New readers should probably steer clear of this annotated edition until they’ve experienced the story at least once. But for those wanting a deeper understanding of the story, or a peek behind the scenes, this annotated edition of Elice’s Peter and the Starcatcher script is a must-read.

4.5 out of 5 wands.

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