Artfully Edmonds: Driftwood offers Peter Pan backstory in ‘Starcatcher’

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Scottish novelist J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan — the mischievous and free-spirited orphan boy who refuses to grow up, is an icon of children’s literature. 

Barrie actually wrote five stories that contain Peter, but did you ever wonder how Peter came to be be stranded on the island of Nevermore in the first place? What’s the back story here? Best-selling authors Dave Barry (Insane City) and Ridley Pearson (Undercurrents) decided to team up and explore that idea. The result was the enormously popular Peter and the Starcatchers (2004). Barry and Pearson have since published three sequels; they can be counted among the multitude of authors and playwrights who’ve breathed new life into this wonderful storyline.

What’s more, Rick Elise (Jersey Boys, The Addams Family) got ahold of Peter and the Starcatchers and with the help of directors Roger Rees and Alex Timbers, and the music of Wayne Barker, adapted it for musical theatre. That adaptation has played around the country to rave reviews. 

Edmonds’ Driftwood Players are bringing the production here, starting this Friday. It will run through Dec. 23 and is ideally suited for the entire family.

Making his directorial debut at Driftwood is Adam Othman. Othman, who’s taught theatre for nearly 30 years, has been running the theatre arts and film programs at Seattle Prep since 2010. He’s performed in or directed over 60 theatrical productions around Seattle. You may remember him in the roles of Cogsworth in last year’s Beauty and the Beast, or maybe as Curly in Oklahoma! both performed at Driftwood.

Othman lives and breathes theatre. He saw Peter and the Starcatcher (the play is Starcatcher, and the book Starcatchers) on Broadway back in 2012 and had often thought of doing the production.

 When he heard Driftwood was planning to perform it, he auditioned to direct, and got the nod.

With this production, one of the many things Othman is grateful for is the people he’s working with. 

“My whole team is amazing. We have a great working rapport,” Othman said.

Veteran musical director Mark Press will be on the podium and choreographer Molly Hall has been busy putting together dance movement that promises to please. “Molly and I are on the same creative wavelength; it’s been great collaborating with her,” Othman said.

“When I saw this play in New York, I fell in love with it. It’s a complex book — we have a cast of 15 from the age of 13 to the late 40s — they play multiple characters, act, narrate and even act as props at times.”

A lot of people auditioned.

“I was blown away by the talent of some of them. And it was great to have such a huge pool of talent to draw from. It’s always a question of matching the right people to the right roles,” Othman said. 

Driftwood recently pulled down the People’s Choice Award for best community theater at this year’s Gregory Awards ceremony. The Gregorys are sort of a Washington state equivalent to the Tony Awards. For one of our local Edmonds theatre companies to have won this statewide accolade is quite an achievement. Driftwood Player Gabriel Ponce also won a People’s Choice award for best musical performance with his role in last season’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. 

Well, I guess the people have spoken. Nab good seats now. Take the kids if you have some, and prepare to be entertained! Note that Driftwood has added two Saturday matinees for this run. 

Tickets are available at https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?ticketing=drift.

— By James Spangler

When not actively scheming about ways to promote the arts in Edmonds, James Spangler can be found (highly caffeinated) behind the counter of his bookstore on 4th Avenue.

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