Megan Stern and Joey DeBettencourt–stars being Starcatchers

PETER AND THE STARCATCHER PRESS

 

By Gary Murray

Megan Stern and Joey DeBettencourt are two of the most pleasant people one will ever meet.  The pair are in town to perform in the play Peter and the Starcatcher.  It is a part of the Lexus Broadway Series at the AT&T Performing Arts Center.  This is the second stop on a national tour that started in Denver and will next be headed to Houston and San Antonio.

The play is set in the world of Peter Pan.  Joey DeBettencourt plays the boy who will eventually become Peter Pan.  Megan Stern is Molly, a thirteen year-old girl who befriends our reluctant hero on their adventure to the island that will become Neverland. 

Megan labeled it play with music, not a musical.  “I think that is kind of neat and different.  Usually plays and musicals are put in very different categories and I think it is very cool that there is something that rides that line; a play that has those fun musical numbers that reference musicals.  It is definitely a play but the music adds something.” 

It is one of the many touring shows about Peter Pan.  Megan said, “It seems that Peter Pan is super hot right now.  This show is a prequel to Peter Pan.  The style of it is so different than your more family oriented version.  It has a darker sensibility to it, a little more edgy.  It is pretty special.” 

Joey added, “It is a very unique production. There is something about it that is fun.  People know the story so they can enjoy how we tell the story.  They love the story and have a great time seeing this show.  I don’t think we’ll tire out anybody.”

All of the actors speak rapid-fire and with a very sophisticated syncopation. “What makes it work is the high energy and high articulation.  The show wouldn’t work if it were naturalistic and off the cuff.  To make it work, you gotta put the energy into it.  I think that it helps with the pacing, getting the energy into the lines.  It is quite a marathon of a show to go through,” said Joey.  Megan compared it to taking the audience on a ride. 

Megan is the only female in the cast.  “For me,” she said, “its fun.  I feel a little special.  That first moment when there are no girls and I get to bust through and say ‘there’s a girl and she’s gonna do stuff.  It’s very fun.”

Of her character, Megan said, “Molly is this precious, adventurous girl who can play with the boys and do a lot of things better than they can.  She’s a real little girl hero.  I would have loved that at that age.  I think she is a really great role model for young women.  I love the idea that this kick-butt girl brings Peter Pan out of his dark days and being his own sort of hero.”

Only one member of the cast was in the Broadway cast and this touring group is still trying to gel together.  Megan said that they had all seen the work of the current New York cast.

“What is fun (with the new cast) is that there is all this stuff that has to be precise in terms of movement,” explained Megan.  “But we are all individuals and the way that this piece is, we all put our own stamp on the roles and finding our own comedic moments that come out of ourselves that are unique to us.”

“For me it is a big physical challenge,” said Joey.  “We have a lot of movement and stunts.  Those stunts are a big part of it and getting that down was really tricky.  There is a lot of trusting everybody else and not drop you.  That is a big part of it, getting everything down physically and precise.  Even the stuff that looks improvised is very choreographed.”

The play has some very modern and specific modern references.  The two laughed about that juxtaposed within a play based in the 1800s.  “The references are enough ingrained into us and our experience of the world,” said Joey.   Megan ended by observing that the show is still alive and is still evolving.

A big shocking scene is when Peter and Molly kiss.  It was something that, according to Joey, they had to rehearse to get just right.  Megan added, “One of the main themes of the show is growing up and how you want to grow up, teetering on that brink of adulthood and adolescent-hood.  To me it makes a lot of sense that Peter and Molly are experimenting with each other and not sure exactly where it wants to go and how they feel about it.”    

As far as the future, Joey admitted that he is a big Shakespeare guy and would like to be one of those old actors who play King Lear in their 80s while Megan would love to have a shot at Laura in The Glass Menagerie.   

They both realize that they are playing to much larger crowds than both the Broadway and off-Broadway casts have performed.  About the big rooms of the opera houses they play in, Joey commented, “The audience got along pretty well. If you follow us along and you trust us, you are going to have a good time.  That is kind of the feeling of it.”  Megan finished by saying, “You follow it as well as you can but if you can let yourself go along with the ride, you are going to get everything out of it that you need to get.  And then you can come back and see it again.”

Peter and the Starcatcher plays at the Winspear Opera House AT&T Performing Arts Center September 17-29 as a part of the Lexus Broadway Series

 

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