‘Peter and the Starcatcher’ flies high at Kent County Theatre Guild

From left, acting in Kent County Theatre Guild’s production of “Peter and the Starcatcher” are Guy Crawford, James Muzzy, Colby Crawford, Britney Eng, Jeff Bellon (top), Tryston Bellon (bottom), Mason Taylor, Kevin Smith, Jeff Hulse and Josh Middleton. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — The tale of Peter Pan before his literary debut takes the stage starting next week with a run of “Peter and the Starcatcher” by the Kent County Theatre Guild.

“We get to find out how Peter became the character in the story we all know so well,” said director John Muller.

But at first, it may not be evident who the characters turn out to be, especially since they have different names, or in Peter’s case, no name at all. He’s simply referred to as “the boy” at the start of the show.

In the Tony award-winning play, “the boy” is shipped off from Victorian England, where he bonds with other passengers, all on their way to an island ruled by an evil king.

“I think that some observant viewers may be able to pick out the major, more famous characters close to the beginning, but more and more is revealed as the play progresses so by the end, everything should come into full view,” said John Hulse.

Mr. Hulse has been involved in theater most his life and despite acting in Delaware for the past 30 years, “Peter and the Starcatcher” is his first with the Theatre Guild.

“I had heard of the Theatre Guild and considered auditioning several times and when I heard about the show, I knew I wanted to be a part of it,” he said.

John Hulse, left, as Mrs. Bumbrake, and Jeff Bellon as Alf play an unlikely couple in “Peter and the Starcatcher.” (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

In the play Mr. Hulse is in the unusual role of nanny Mrs. Bumbrake.

The 12-member cast has been very welcoming, as there are several first-timers, and youngsters, who have limited experience with community theater.

High school freshman Tryston Bellon is acting with the Guild for the second time and just finished “A Christmas Story” at Caesar Rodney, also directed by Mr. Muller.

“Mr. Muller told us about the show and I thought it would be a good opportunity,” Tryston said.

He’s portraying Peter’s sidekick, Prentiss.

“I’ve been acting for five or six years now but it’s definitely different acting with adults,” Tryston said.

“I think that working with adults gives young actors a good chance to learn more about theater by being surrounded by people who have done it for so long,” Mr. Muller said. “I think it also sets a high bar, acting alongside people with a lot of experience.”

Another perk to acting with adults is seeing how every aspect of a performance comes together.

“Here, unlike in other theaters, we all participate in every part of the show,” said Kevin Smith, portraying pirate chief Black Stache. He’s been with the Guild since 1994. “Actors aren’t only acting. We work together on everything.”

Delaware State News/Marc Clery
Young actors in “Peter and the Starcatcher” are, from left, Colby Crawford as Ted, Britney Eng as Molly, Mason Taylor as Peter and Tryston Bellon as Prentiss. The show begins Nov. 30 and runs for two weekends. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Mason Taylor, despite being one of the younger actors is quite experienced, having acted throughout his childhood, several times with the Theatre Guild and twice in short films.

“It’s always fun to step into someone else’s skin because being yourself can be boring sometimes. But in shows like this, when you’re playing a fantastical character, it gets you out of the norm,” he said.

Mason plays the lead role of Peter Pan and said despite the show being a prequel of a classic story, there’s a lot of modern humor that everyone can enjoy.

This sense of humor made it a perfect choice for the holiday season, Mr. Muller said.

“I like doing a show the whole family can enjoy around the holidays,” Mr. Muller said. “It’s fun for the family and will make a great memory.”

Four of the actors are making memories in the show as there are two father/son duos in the cast, including Tryston and his father, Jeff Bellon, playing the role of Alf, a sailor on the Neverland ship, who falls in love with Mrs. Bumbrake.

Mr. Muller vacated some of his directing responsibilities to stage manager and his wife, Nancy Muller, a week ago when he had to step in when an actor that had to drop out of the show.

“We had to shuffle a few things around and I’ll be taking advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday to catch up on learning all the lines,” he said.

Luckily, the lines and costumes are the main focus of the show since the story calls for a very minimalistic set to allow the audience to use their imagination as the story unfolds.

Guy Crawford appears as Lord Aster, left, and James Muzzy is Capt. Scott.

“It’s really like putting a puzzle together as you watch,” Mason said. “You have to pay close attention to all the lines and you’ll see it all come together.”

The main props used in the show are two trunks, one of which is full of precious starstuff, a powerful substance that must be kept out of the wrong hands.

“Peter and the Starcatcher” takes the stage Nov. 30, Dec. 1, 7 and 8 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 2 at 2 p.m. at the Patchwork Playhouse at 140 Roosevelt Ave. in Dover.

For more information and to reserve tickets, which range from $20 to $10,visit kctg.org.

Ashton Brown is a freelance writer living in Dover.

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