Until EPIC’s production of Peter and the Star Catcher, I had never gone to see both the opening and closing performances of one of my daughter’s shows. To support Samantha and EPIC, I usually attend two shows—always the opening night and then a second random show in the middle. With Peter and the Star Catcher, I decided it would be fun to see the evolution of the show from its beginning on opening night to its final Sunday matinee. I have always wondered how actors perform the same role over and over, day and night. Does the cast perform with more energy and excitement on opening night? Are the actors exhausted and depleted by the last show, or are they performing their roles more effectively and with greater confidence?
From this momager’s perspective, I’d say opening night was bursting with excitement and energy. When the curtain went up, the audience was immersed in a world with pirates, mermaids, stormy seas and brave children who learn to look out for each other. All 17 actors played their parts with skill and passion and appeared joyful during their time on stage. As an ensemble play, all of EPIC’s cast members had a chance to shine and show their talents and humor which added up to an evening of laughter and fun.
Nick Amodio was a wonderful Peter, especially in the final show. I enjoyed watching his character grow from a distrustful orphan boy to a warm and caring young man willing to take risks to save Molly and his friends. By the closing matinee, Peter had completely won my heart. I totally empathized with his lament that grown-ups lie and can’t be trusted, yet we all must take that leap of faith.
Jordan Boyatt’s warm and willful Molly was consistent in opening and closing performances; she charmed both the audience and Peter convincingly.
While both leading actors were impressive, the cast member who stole the show, in my opinion, was Max Baudisch, who played Black Stache. Hilarious and magnetic, the Black Stache was brilliant every moment he was on the stage, and often laugh-out-loud funny. Aiding and abetting Stache’s humor, was Smee, his pirate side-kick, perfectly played and supported by Gianluca Cirafici, crisply delivering comic linguistic corrections to his boss. Together they were their own version of Laurel and Hardy.
There were several other supporting actors who gave outstanding performances. Amaker Smith, who played Fighting Prawn, was very funny condemning the English people to die and somehow reminding me of the best of Saturday Night Live. Ditto for Gideon Pianko, who was wildly funny as the Teacher in his whimsical and ridiculous mermaid costume lecturing Peter about his future life.
Last but by no means least was my favorite supporting actress (surprise, surprise) Samantha Elisofon playing Mrs. Bumbrake. Prim and proper as Molly’s nanny, Samantha had perfectly mastered a “posh” British accent to match her austere, Victorian-style costume. More importantly, Samantha’s portrayal of Mrs. Bumbrake was hilarious. She managed to be strict and caring with Molly, while flirting outrageously with sailor Alf (Kylie Hogrefe) who was a perfect foil.
Major kudos to Director Travis Burbee and Assistant Director Lauren Callen for managing a large neurodiverse cast of 17 and keeping the show moving at a brisk, smooth pace. No easy task, I know.
All of EPIC’s players behind the scenes made the show successful. Costume designer Cat Fisher created wonderful and whimsical costumes, especially for the mermaid scene. Stage manager Michael Fernandez-Fortna, and his assistants Carol Hoverman and Ari Sloan kept all of the cast members on cue, resulting in fast and seamless scene changes.
I particularly loved the imaginative creations of Scenic Designer Matthew Imberhoff and Props Designer Wells Thorne. My personal favorites were: the clacking wooden teeth of the crocodile, the plastic sharks, the ship models used to illustrate the demise of the real ship, as well the grouping of green umbrellas to represent trees in the jungle, cleverly hiding and revealing different characters.
Congratulations to EPIC for what I believe was their best show yet. If you saw and enjoyed Peter and the Star Catcher, and would like to reward the cast with a well-deserved raise, please donate to EPIC Players at Samantha’s Giving Tuesday page: https://secure.givelively.org//donate/epic-players-inc/epic-giving-tuesday/samantha-elisofon
Happy Holidays and a big thank you to all of my friends and family who have supported my daughter and EPIC Players.