Casting the spotlight on ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’ crew
Before Peter Pan was the boy who never grew up, he was just an orphan going on an adventure on the ship the Neverland. Along with a scurvy bunch of pirates, inanimate objects and mermaids, more than 100 characters appear in the production. However, they are played by a cast of 12 actors. The Miami Hurricane had a chance to sit down with some of the performers to ask them about their roles, challenges they have faced and how they handled playing multiple characters.
Curious about this grownups’ prequel to Peter Pan? Read the review of “Peter and the Starcatcher,” now playing the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts through Oct. 26.
Name: Joshua Jacobson
Main character: Boy/Peter
Three-word character description: “Boy seeking home”
“I identify with him a lot in just how Peter in this play goes through such a transformation of really coming into his own and being confidant with himself,” Jacobson said. “He becomes the person he is meant to be, and I feel I’ve made a lot of those same, you know it’s kind of an anti-growing up story in a lot of ways…
“It’s different because he’s kind of, in a lot of ways, almost going backwards because he starts out as somebody with a lot of really terrible experiences, not having people who love him, and learning to regain his innocence. So it’s been a really interesting journey thinking about that.”
Name: Matt Sawalski
Main character: Smee
Three-word character description: “Dedicated, hilarious, and adorable”
Total number of characters played: Seven, including Smee, Lieutenant Greggors, narrator, sailor, mermaid, siren and mollusk.
“I think I am like this character in that I love to make other people happy, and I also can occasionally say something that is really funny, but I did not realize it was until people started laughing,” Sawalski said. “The big difference between myself and Smee is the dedication and patience Smee has. I would have been off that crew super fast.
“My biggest challenge with this production so far is just how much work it takes physically to give this show everything it deserves,” he said. “I always leave that theater drenched from sweat. Also I am basically always sore and get a nice workout every show. But it is so much fun and I wouldn’t trade getting to have this experience for anything.”
Name: Robert Fritz
First character: Bill Slank, captain of the ship Neverland
Three-word character description: “Briny, sadistic sailor”
Total number of characters played: Seven, including Slank, narrator, pirate, flying cat, orphan, Hawking Clam and pineapple
“We all play a boatload of different characters in this play, which is part of what makes it so interesting,” Fritz said. “I have the pleasure of being so radically different from all the characters I play, which is a really fun challenge. I try to put my own sense of theatricality and silliness into everything that I do, which works really well in this kind of show.
“This show is so physically active and demanding,” he said. “Just getting the energy and stamina to run around screaming for two hours is a challenge in itself. It’s definitely a cardiovascular kind of theatre.”
Name: Timothy Bell
Main character: Prentiss
Three-word description: “Mean, weird and prissy”
Total number of characters played: Five, including a narrator, a pirate, british sailor and Neverland Sailor
“It’s actually kind of perfectly cast as I’ve found I can do a lot of the things I do in real life to give Prentiss more dimension,” Bell said. “All the weird little quirks and what he thinks scarily come naturally.
“It’s a very stylized show, but it also has a lot of heart and honesty, so my biggest challenge was trying to maintain that honesty while keeping with the style,” he said. “Also just keeping energy up. It’s a highly energetic show and when we start it goes off with a bang. I think we’re all pretty tired by the end.”
Name: Alejandro Arturo Gonzalez
Main character: Fighting Prawn
Three-word description: “Eccentric Tropical King”
Total number of characters played: Four, including Fighting Prawn, Grempkin, Mack and Sanchez, plus a few unnamed ensemble parts
“I am similar to the character in that he is very grandiose, eccentric and larger than life,” Gonzalez said. “I am a very sociable person who likes to have fun, and I wanted to imbue the character with that aspect, as well as being ‘kingly’ and authoritative and have as much presence as possible.
“The biggest challenge was adapting to the set itself,” he said. “Rehearsing in the movement studio in the theatre department on campus is very different from the space in the Arsht. The set is enormous and has multiple stories, including two towers on either side of the stage, rope ladders all the way in the back, and a ‘roller coaster’ deck the winds its way up and down through the set. It took us a few days to adapt to the stage itself, and we are still finding new things to do with all the scenery we have on stage.”
Name: Thomas Jansen
Main character: Mrs. Bumbrake
Three-word description: “Flamboyant, fun and energetic”
Total number of characters played: Four
“It’s difficult to find similarities between myself and this character since she’s about 50-60 years of age and of the opposite sex,” Jansen said. “The only similarity I can think of is that she she loves to have fun.
“The biggest challenge of the production so far is to craft distinct characters that I can transform into in an instant without leaving the audience wondering about whether I’m still the character I was a second ago,” he said. “I think that’s an ongoing process in both crafting the characters and mastering the transitions. It’s super fun. I get to do whatever I want because the audience knows that it’s a ridiculous situation for a man to play a woman.”
This article originally appeared in The Miami Hurricane on Oct. 15, 2014.