BANGS — Dressed in shorts, jeans and T-shirts on a recent evening, Bangs High School theatre students alternated between moments of expertly delivered dialogue and stopping the action to listen to director Billie Harvey.
It was rehearsal time as Harvey’s theatre students prepare for the production of “Peter and the Starcatcher,” a comedy that is actually a prequel to “Peter Pan.”
By the time the play opens on Nov. 16, all of the starts and stops will have been eliminated, and the public will be treated to a typically excellent and seamless performance by a fully costumed cast.
Show times in the Bangs High School auditorium are:
• Saturday, Nov. 16 — 7 p.m.
• Sunday, Nov. 17 — 2 p.m., with a dessert theatre at 1 p.m.
• Monday, Nov. 18 — 7 p.m.
Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for students and $2 for the Sunday dessert.
Harvey provided a synopsis for Peter and the Starcatcher:
“It is 1885 during the reign of Queen Victoria and two ships from the British Empire set sail on the high seas for the imaginary kingdom of Rundoon.
“On one ship, The Neverland, three orphan boys encounter a smart and witty girl named Molly Aster, the daughter of an English lord and minister to the queen. Also on board is a trunk full of precious starstuff that Molly has promised to protect. One of the orphans, known only as Boy, is bitter and unpleasant. Once he meets Molly, his lonely and miserable world is turned upside down.
“On the other ship, The Wasp, Molly’s father, the famous starcatcher Lord Aster, guards a decoy trunk from pirates who are in search of treasure. The pirate captain, Black Stache, discovers the ruse and goes after The Neverland.
“A violent storm ensues, and Molly and the orphans find themselves trying to save the valuable trunk from Black Stache, his men, and the both of the ships’ crews. The Neverland is torn asunder in the storm.
“In the midst of all the upheaval, Boy meets Black Stache who gives him the name of Peter while trying to convince him to become a pirate. The trunk is almost in secure hands, when in order to save himself from drowning, Peter rides it through the waves to a nearby island.
“And the adventures have only begun. What becomes of Molly, Peter, and the other lost boys? Why is everyone after the starstuff and what does it do? Does anyone—or anything—ever stop Black Stache and the pirates? Discover more than ever about these classic characters you thought you knew.”
Harvey said she agrees with a review written by Sami Zahringer at www.ojaiact.org.
“Peter and the Starcatcher … might at first glance seem like a play whose primary audience is children, and children will enjoy its antic, pantomime vibe and physical silliness for sure,” the review states. “But it is also a witty, literate, verbal playground that adults will relish.”
The dialogue contains anachronisms including a reference to a Cadillac Escalade, Harvey said.
While the play is a comedy, it contains “one little dark moment,” Harvey said. “You kind of see why Boy is the way he is because he’s very closed off, very bitter because he’s an orphan. He was raised in a pretty abusive orphanage and we see that abuse in one scene.”
In typical fashion for a small school such as Bangs, cast and crew are overcoming the challenge of having some of the cast missing during rehearsals because the students are involved in other activities.
“We have eight football players, a couple of volleyball players, we’ve got cheerleaders and we have a lot of band kids,” Harvey said. “So most of these kids are doing double and triple duty in other activities.
“Finding a way to all get together to get a quality show and work around everyone’s schedule has been a big challenge, but one that we’re meeting pretty well. But that’s part of it. They’re just super busy kids.”