Peter and The Starcatcher Review by Elisabeth Pitts

The PAC’s Peter and the Starcatcher is a Success in Spite of a Malfunctioning Mustache.

by Elisabeth Pitts

The fall play, presented by Belmont High School’s Performing Arts Company, had a successful run of three shows last week on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Headlined by seniors Raffi Manjikian and Miriam Cubstead and supported by the phenomenally talented cast and crew, the performance drew standing ovations from parents and classmates night after night.

Peter and the Starcatcher is one of the many different versions of the origin story of Peter Pan, and Manjikian played the character in question. His impassioned and believable performance as the boy who never wants to grow up was complemented by Cubstead’s powerful rendition of Molly Aster, a girl who sadly realizes that growing up is inevitable for her. The two of them had excellent chemistry onstage, and the tentative romance that grew between them as the play progressed was one that had many audience members greatly invested and rooting for a happy ending for the pair.

Another memorable coupling was of Molly’s nanny Mrs. Bumbrake, played by senior Becca Schwartz, and Alf, a sailor with a surprisingly passable Scottish accent, played by senior Sebastian Newell. Their comedic timing was well-executed and dramatic without being overbearing.

Of course, this review would be incomplete without the mention of Black Stache and his sidekick Smee, played by seniors Evan Wagner and Gayane Kaligian, respectively. Kaligian’s execution of several subtle but memorable jokes was one of the many highlights of the evening, and Wagner’s take on Black Stache was the most consistent and entertaining comedic relief in the entire show. It should also be noted that when presented with the issue of a fake mustache that refused to stay on throughout the course of a monologue, Wagner behaved very professionally and remained stoic in the face of a hairy situation.

Seniors James Boyle and Shira Vilvovsky were intimidating in the roles of Captain Bill Slank and Grempkin. Another notable performance includes junior Abby Mohr’s take on the leader of the Mollusks, a formidable man named Hawking Clam with a Russian, Italian, Spanish, and possibly Greek accent. Sophomore Nikolas Nielsen made an impression in the role of Hawking Clam’s son Fighting Prawn, who is probably the show’s most tragic character, as his father completely disregards him and passes his rule onto Peter Pan. Juniors Sri Kaushik and Sammy Haines shone as Ted and Prentiss, Peter’s fellow orphans and OG Lost Boys. The unsung star of the show would have to be Ruth Christensen, who was delightful in the roles of Cat/Bird and whose flawlessly executed acrobatic feats rivaled those of her castmates.

Anna Moss, Eliza Jones, Chris Fournier, Lilikoi Bronson, Norman Staub, and Sam Bastille outdid themselves behind the scenes, supported by the multi-talented crew, with a vast, dynamic set, multiple-use props, and very effective, immersive lighting choices. The enormous crocodile puppet, affectionately called Mr. Grin, was especially impressive. Costumes, which were designed and created under the direction of Lila West, Sonya Epstein, and Lucy Guzman were beautiful and added a magical touch to the already extraordinarily directed and produced show. Most memorably, excellent set, costume, and lighting teamed up together to produce a scene in the mysteriously lit Golden Grotto, in which sophomore Jane Wenzel, in the role of the Teacher Mermaid, appeared towering over her castmates while seated on top of a rocky ledge, wearing a cascading, glittering mermaid tail.

None of this would have been possible without Ezra Flam, director of the show and all-around wonderful human being. He has been endlessly supportive and admiring of the students’ abilities as performers and crew members, from the beginning of the casting process in June to the very last show this past Saturday. Congratulations cast and crew of Peter and the Starcatcher!

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