PVHS Drama Takes the Spotlight with “Peter and the Starcatcher”

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Amber Chen, Opinion Editor

After two months of diligent work behind the scenes, the PVHS Drama Department is ready to put on another series of stellar performances, with six in total. 

On Nov. 5, 6, 7, 12, 13 and 14, the talented cast will be enacting their stunning rendition of the musical “Peter and the Starcatcher.” 

Tickets cost $20 for adults and $15 for students, and may be purchased online at www.pvhsdrama.com or at the MPR door if seats are still available. 

“Peter and the Starcatcher’’ tells the backstory of the legendary Peter Pan before he became a hero. In the beginning of this play, Peter is a nameless orphan only known as “Boy.” Because of his deep distrust towards adults, his only acquaintances are the orphan boys Prentiss and Ted. 

As they are shipped off from Victorian England to a remote island, they encounter Molly Aster, a clever and self-assured starcatcher-in-training. 

Starcatchers are individuals hand-selected by the Queen to protect “starstuff,” a powerful and magical substance that must be kept  out of evil hands. 

Molly leads the boys on a mission to protect a precious trunk of starstuff from the fearsome pirate Black Stache and his crew. After he loses his hand, Black Stache is renamed as the infamous Captain Hook. 

 “I think this play could reach every demographic,” junior and Black Stache actor Caiden Falstrup-Finney said. 

“The jokes in this play and the references are really funny for the youth group and older adult people as well. I myself really enjoy the show because of the type of humor it has. It’s very out there and very tongue-in-cheek.”

Senior Michael Sprengel, who formerly has acted in TV shows, is excited to be starring as Peter in his first musical theater production. 

“The really cool thing about this show is that everyone is on stage, all the time,” Sprengel said. “The ensemble plays a big part this time, because [they are] on stage all the time, so they’re always being watched. Everyone’s a part of every scene.”

The cast thinks the ensemble really adds something unique to the production.

“Our version of this show is much more real and compact, because we have such a small cast,” Falstrup-Finney said. 

“Some people are playing multiple characters. You really get a sense of homeliness and you feel a close relationship with each individual character. For a play, you really want that connection with each individual character and where they’re at in the story.”

Many of the cast members have learned noteworthy lessons from the plot, whether it’s from the overall storyline or from embodying their characters. 

Falstrup-Finney, for example, feels that he has faced the same flaws as his character Black Stache, but has learned from the encouraging messages of the play nonetheless.

 “I’ve learned that things might not go your way, but you can find opportunities to change your views and what outcomes happen in your life,” Falstrup-Finney said. 

Likewise, portraying the headstrong character of 13-year-old Molly Aster has helped junior Neela David grasp her own flaws and address them. 

“[Molly] grows throughout this story and realizes that not everything has to be done her way, and that she can learn from others,” David said. 

“That’s something I’ve also dealt with. Especially throughout the show, I’ve learned from so many other people and I feel like I’ve learned more about myself as I’ve learned more about my character. I think I’ve grown along with Molly.”

At the beginning of the play, the characters are emotionally distant and unfamiliar with each other, but as they overcome obstacles together throughout the show, they grow into a family. 

“I think that’s the most important thing I’ve noticed, because we actors can relate to it,” David said.

“Every single time we perform together in a show, we always learn. It makes me happy to see how I’ve grown, how other people have grown and how people in the story have grown. It’s just so parallel.”

Sprengel outlines the aspects he finds most crucial for members of the production to take away from the experience. 

“The most important quality is definitely teamwork and being able to work well with other people, and also take directions from them,” Sprengel said. 

“Teamwork makes the dream work, as they say.”

Two lesser-recognized sectors of the play’s production are the crew and the pit orchestra. The crew runs many behind-the-scenes processes to keep the show running smoothly, including cueing lights and imperceptibly supplying props to the actors. They also help move heavy stage props between scenes. 

Stage Manager and junior Scarlet Bailey has many intricate responsibilities as the crew’s supervisor.

“I have to make sure that lighting is cued properly and on time during the show, that every prop and set piece is where it’s supposed to be,” Bailey said. 

“I’m in charge of making all those checklists, fixing and making any props needed and tracking the movement of props— who has which prop when, and who needs to give the prop to the actor. Stage managing is a lot of work, and you’re on your feet constantly doing stuff, but if you love having a busy job like that then it’s perfect.”

While the cast members perform on stage, the pit produces live music. Since both the crew and the pit take cues from the actors’ lines, they must remain flexible and adapt to whatever happens on stage. The pit, crew, and cast all have to be able to make decisions on the spot based on the situation.

“The hardest part of performing live is the fact that every performance is going to be very different,” junior and pit conductor Johannes Eberhart said. 

“In musical theater, there’s a lot of factors involved with there being actors and actresses. Sometimes their cadence might be different from day to day, so [the pit and crew] have to adjust to that. Especially as a conductor, being able to adapt to that is definitely difficult.”

According to Falstrup-Finney, “No one’s more significant in a show than anyone else. You just really have to learn to respect your peers.”

All members of the production share this same notion. 

“No matter what role you have in the theater, you’re still equal to one another, whether you’re in the pit or cast or crew,” Bailey said. 

“You depend on each other so much that there’s no room for ego.”