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REVIEW: Make Sure You Catch Peter and the Star Catcher

By Shelley Bromberg,

originally published: 10/10/2016

REVIEW: Make Sure You Catch Peter and the Star Catcher

One of the many benefits of theatre in New Jersey is having the opportunity to see a great performance of a play locally that you missed while it was running on Broadway. Such is the case with the Growing Stage and its current New Jersey professional premiere of five-time Tony Award® winning play, Peter and the Star Catcher, at the Historic Palace Theatre in Netcong.

Written by Rick Elice, Peter and the Star Catcher is based on the best-selling novel, Peter and the Starcatchers, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson and directed by Roger Rees and Alex Timbers with music by Wayne Barker. This musical prequel answers the age-old question: How exactly did Peter Pan become The Boy Who Never Grew Up?

No surprise, then, that on its opening night, The Growing Stage’s Children’s Theatre of New Jersey kicks off its 35th season with an audience filled with smiling adults and children who are very excited and eager to learn more about a beloved character from their childhoods. 

In tonight’s performance, both children and adults journey on a fantastic trip back to the Queen Victorian era of 1885. It is evident through much applause, laughter, and children’s giggles that they are delighting in pillaging pirates, jungle savages, colorful mermaids, magical elements, and lost and found treasures. The audience joyfully takes in the creative use of pantomime, props, puppets, and simple materials used to create ocean waves.

REVIEW: Make Sure You Catch Peter and the Star Catcher

There are about a dozen actors in this production who bring over 100 characters to life. The ensemble is strong and energetic and the action is fast-paced. Most notable are actors Josh Carpenter (Black Stache), who enlivens the stage with his humorous antics and Davis Lemley, who honestly portrays a believable lost orphan who will eventually find his voice and name, Peter. 

REVIEW: Make Sure You Catch Peter and the Star Catcher

REVIEW: Make Sure You Catch Peter and the Star Catcher

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In addition to Carpenter, the cast features a strong array of EQUITY actors including Izzy Figueroa (Sanchez/Fighting Prawn), Jeremy William Hilgert (Bill Slank/Hawking Clam), Lucas Pinner (Mack/Grempkin), and Richard Stillman (Smee/Gregors).

Nikki Miller beautifully brings to life the role of energetic Molly Aster, and Julie Galorenzo is to be commended for her lively portrayals of Mrs. Brumbrake and Teacher. Rounding out the ensemble is Robert Allan (Lord Aster), Stephen Fox (Captain Scott), Dalton Allison (Prentice), and Justin Watt (Ted).

REVIEW: Make Sure You Catch Peter and the Star Catcher

REVIEW: Make Sure You Catch Peter and the Star Catcher

The play is cleverly directed by Stephen L. Fredericks, The Growing Stage’s Executive Director. The cast is strong on the musical numbers, which can be attributed to the effective musical direction of Stephen Fox. Jillian Petrie does a fine job with lively and energetic choreography. 

Fourth graders, Delaney and Roisin, were giggling and taking in the humor throughout the performance. When asked during intermission what they enjoy most, Delaney reveals that she likes the funny character of Black Stache. Roisin states that she loves Molly because, “She is kind and can do anything with the star dust.” Clearly, it is a family-friendly and fun event for kids and parents who are eager to use their imaginations!

For those of you not familiar with the Historic Palace Theatre, it has a rich and vibrant history of its own. Built in 1919, the theatre has been a noteworthy entertainment venue for over 50 years. 

According to the Growing Stage’s website, the theatre first began showing silent movies and vaudeville shows, and it was later used for community events. In the mid-1930’s, actors of the day — Celeste Holm, Gale Sondergaard, and Bert Lytell — performed as a troupe first here and then later on the Great White Way.

The Growing Stage purchased the Palace in 1995 and has worked vigorously on the building’s restoration, raising and re-investing over $2 million in the project. 

The facility is listed on the National Registers of Historic Places. It can fully seat 240 patrons and the balcony and art gallery is adorned with beautiful murals painstakingly completed by Perry Arthur Kroeger, company artist-in-resident.

Peter and the Star Catcher runs through October 23 and performances are Fridays at 7:30 and Saturdays and Sundays at 4:00. The upcoming season includes a Halloween Magic Show starring Morley the Magician and the ever-popular A Christmas Carol, the musical running November 18-December 18. For tickets or more information go to 

PHOTOS BY Jerry Dalia

For more by Shelley Bromberg, visit MsBrom.Com

J CITY Theater Returns With "Bakersfield Mist"
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- J CITY Theater launches their first full season in four years with their Fall show: Bakersfield Mist by Stephen Sachs at their new location – The Barrow Mansion, 83 Wayne Street.  The production runs Thursdays through Sundays from September 28th through October 13th. Set in a downtrodden trailer park in California, Bakersfield Mist is the story of Maude Gutman (Sandy Cockrell) who has recently purchased an ugly painting at Daisy’s Junk Shop for three dollars.  Turns out, the painting may actually be a lost masterpiece by Jackson Pollock.   
Old Library Theatre Presents "Parade"
(FAIR LAWN, NJ) -- Old Library Theatre, Fair Lawn Recreation Department's resident theater company, presents Parade. Six performances only: October 12, 13, 19 & 20 at 8:00pm and October 14 & 21 at 2:00pm.  Parade tells the story of Leo Frank, a Brooklyn-raised Jew living in Georgia in 1913, who is put on trial for the murder of thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan, a factory worker under his employ.
The Lord Stirling Theater Company Presents "Treasure Island"
(BASKING RIDGE, NJ) -- The Lord Stirling Theater Company will present Treasure Island in the English Barn Theater at the Farmstead Arts Center October 5-7 and October 12-14. Adapted for the stage by award-winning playwright Ken Ludwig (Lend Me a Tenor, Crazy for You) from the classic novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island follows the adventures of a boy named Jim Hawkins who comes into possession of a treasure map.
Premiere Stages to Present World Premiere of Liberty Live Commission "Black Tom Island"
(UNION, NJ) -- Premiere Stages at Kean University will present Martin Casella’s Black Tom Island from October 11-21 at Liberty Hall Museum (1003 Morris Avenue, Union, N.J.). Originally commissioned over a two-year cycle through Premiere’s Liberty Live Commission, Black Tom Island will feature actors Damian Buzzerio, Mason Hensley, Jenna Krasowski and Bart Shatto. Producing artistic director John J. Wooten directs.
American Poetry Theater Presents "Gun Love"
(LONG BRANCH, NJ) -- The American Poetry Theater presents Gun Love from October 5-7.  The play, written by cast and community members, runs about one hour and is a collection of monologues and a skit dealing with gun violence in America.  

Two River Theater Presents The World Premiere of "Pamela's First Musical"
If anyone ever doubts that New Jersey is home to great theatre, just point them to the world premiere of “Pamela’s First Musical” at Two River Theater. The cast and creative behind this show by Wendy Wasserstein and Christopher Durang includes a combined total of more than 25 Tony Award nominations and seven wins. It’s a cast that would look impressive at any theatre – Broadway  or otherwise. According to one of the stars, the opportunity to work with the 10-time Tony Award nominee director/choreographer Graciela Daniele and to be part of a new musical was too good to pass up.
The Jersey Devil on stage: An interview with playwright Brandon Monokian
Up-and-coming New Jersey native Brandon Monokian has worked as an actor, writer, director, producer, and popcorn sample distributor. He wrote and starred in the film Happy Yummy Chicken and co-founded the production company Love Drunk Life with Katie Frazer. Together they have produced plays, films, books, and, to support their creative work financially, a product line: Monokian received national attention through Revolutionary Readings (his TEDx talk at Princeton Library), which was used to fight the banning of the book Revolutionary Voices from two New Jersey libraries. 
An Interview With Nicole Pandolfo
Nicole Pandolfo is a talented playwright from New Jersey whose work has been produced on four continents along with readings and productions throughout the Garden State. Her play, Brick City, is currently being presented at Premiere Stages at Kean University now through September 23rd. The play was commissioned and developed via the NJPAC Stage Exchange program. Premiere's production features Rafael Benoit, Jacqueline Correa, Madison Ferris and Chris Grant under the direction of Jessi D. Hill.
Ritz Opens Season With "Incorruptible"
Fun seems to be the operative word for “Incorruptible,” the production that opens the fall season at  the Ritz Theatre Company on Thursday, September 13.
"Bright Star" at Surflight Theatre
Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s Broadway musical “Bright Star” has come to Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven. The comedian and the songwriter created the show after collaborating on a Grammy-winning bluegrass album called “Love Has Come For You.” “Bright Star” is set in the American South in the 1920s and ’40s, and it’s on a similar musical wavelength. We recently spoke with Surflight’s Artistic Director Steve Steiner, actor Adrianne Hick and director Elizabeth Lucas about bringing “Bright Star” to Long Beach Island.

Event calendar
Saturday, Sep 22, 2018


Asbury Park Porchfest @ Booskerdoo, Asbury Park - 12:00pm

Carl Chesna & Co. @ Hotel Tides, Asbury Park - 1:00pm

Echoes @ The Stone Pony, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

Cole Swindell @ Hard Rock Live Etess Arena at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, Atlantic City - 8:00pm

GRUPO NICHE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

The History of Motown @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

Drake Bell @ iPlay America, Freehold - 7:00pm

Classic Stones Live feat. The Glimmer Twins @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Opera Theatre of Montclair Presents Hansel and Gretel @ Central Presbyterian Church, Montclair - 4:00pm

Oscar D’León with Tony Vega and Los Hermanos Moreno @ Prudential Hall @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 8:00pm

SunDog Band at Duffy's Tavern, Paterson NJ @ Duffy's Tavern, Paterson NJ, Paterson - 9:00pm

Celtic Thunder X @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Young Person's Concert @ River Dell Middle School Auditorium, River Edge - 1:00pm

Tigerman record release show for “Descend Into Savagery” @ Debonair Music Hall, Teaneck - 8:00pm

Hubby Jenkins @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm


Souvenir @ Surflight Theatre, Beach Haven - 8:00pm

East Lynne Theater Company presents SILENT SKY @ First Presbyterian Church (Cape May), Cape May - 8:00pm

The Shuck @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Incorruptible @ Ritz Theatre Company, Haddon Township - 8:00pm

West End Festival of the Arts- Theatre Brut Session 2 @ West End Arts Center, Long Branch - 2:00pm

Evita @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Seuls en Scene French Theater Festival - "Claire, Anton et Eux" @ Class of 1970 Theatre, Whitman College, Princeton - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

HUMAN ERROR by Eric Pfeffinger @ West Windsor Arts Center, Princeton Junction - 8:00pm

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm

Assisted Living: The Musical @ Jay & Linda Grunin Center For The Arts At Ocean County College, Toms River - 2:00pm

Brick City @ Premiere Stages at Kean University, Union - 3:00pm


SWAN LAKE - THE ATLANTIC CITY BALLET @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 7:00pm

SOLE Defined @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 8:00pm


Monthly Saturday Writing Retreats @ Tiferet Journal, Bernardsville - 9:00am

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