“Peter and the Starcatcher” lifts spirits with engaging characters, production

Sahasra Chakilam, Staff Photographer

On a misty spring evening, the CHS9 Auditorium is dark with only soft blue and green lights protruding from corners of the stage. 

In a sudden shift, the platform is illuminated, and seen is an ensemble standing together dressed in a wardrobe reminiscent of the Victorian era and antique, corroded boats on waters, creating a scene of seafaring. 

On Friday, CHS9 theater debuted the first night of its biggest production of the year, “Peter and the Starcatcher.” Based on the 2004 novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, the story follows an orphan by the name of “Boy’’ and his journey into becoming the well-known Peter Pan. 

“The biggest [challenge] that we usually always run into during plays is that they are all ninth graders,” CHS9 theater teacher and director Lauren Holt said. “They are the ones who build the sets, run the lights, run the sounds, so it is cool to see our younger students on a show that is almost professional.”

CHS9 student Olivia Guerra performs “Mermaid Outta Me” as Molly in the campus production of “Peter and the Starcatcher.” The production is based on the 2004 novel and showcased from Friday through Sunday. (Wendy Le)

The headstrong, bitter orphan alongside his fellow orphan comrades, Prentiss and Teddy, are shipped away on a boat holding a mysterious trunk of treasures only the commander, Captain Aster, knows about. As the boys venture off in the seas, they meet the fearless Molly, daughter of the commander.

As the valuables get in the wrong hands of the main antagonist, Black Stache, the orphans and Molly must claim it back. 

A multitude of humorous remarks and playful banter between the expressive, sparky characters throughout the play generated a light-hearted energy and thrill to the plot. Characters such as Black Stache, portrayed by Johan Padayatti, incorporated silly gesticulations to add to the hilarity of scenes, making audience members laugh. 

CHS9 student Johan Padayatti as Black Stache threatens Yuvan Sampath as Boy in the campus production of “Peter and the Starcatcher.” The production is based on the 2004 novel and showcased from Friday through Sunday. (Wendy Le)

“I hope the audience think that the show is funny, especially on my part, and they learn about the story of Peter Pan,” Padayatti said. “I based my character a lot off of Johnny Depp and included a lot of hip movements to tie my performance together.”

The use of lighting and audio mirrored the emotions and atmosphere. From strobing, vibrant lights spotlighting characters during songs,fight-scenes and loud, thumping noises to imitate sounds such as thunder and lightning, audience members were able to feel like they were part of the story. 

“This is the first year that we had LED lights at CHS9; we had spotlights and we had microphones,” Holt said. “So as we ran all of that, we found out all of that stuff is pretty cool as our shows are finally starting to raise levels in the ninth grade center.” 

In the end of “Peter and the Starcatcher,” the audience are left feeling bittersweet, but nevertheless uplifted. The Boy or Peter Pan, not only finds a name, but also finds himself. 

“We want the audience to be able to laugh and connect with what they think home is,” Holt said. “There are moments in the show that are serious, there are moments that are goofy, and it’s just an overall fun time.”

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