On the wings of your imagination, on the words of a story, on the whimsy of a theatrical experience?
This morning, I had the pleasure of watching my son's fourth grade class perform their class play - an interpretation of the Persephone myth. The Greek gods and goddesses wore white sheets and headdresses made of glitter and styrofoam. Charon the ferryman to the Underworld rowed a painted cardboard boat that kept eluding his grasp and falling down. My son, who was Zeus, held a teeny tiny Thunderbolt that I think was made of Reynolds Wrap. And of course, the stage backdrop - a garden of Spring flowers - was painted by all the children.
It was a fantastic, heartfelt, delicious production. At one point, the boy playing Hades hit one of the three boys playing Cerebrus, the three headed dog of the Underworld, in the head with a plastic bone. At another, one of Persephone's handmaids told a (somewhat incomprehensible) joke about a Greek chicken crossing a road. The passage of ages was signified by Cronos, "goddess of time," who very dramatically kept turning a homemade hourglass made of glued together plastic bottles that I'm pretty sure once held Gatorade.
It's this same childhood jubilance and imagination that's so beautifully captured by Broadway's Peter and the Starcatcher .(The show, now at the Brooks Atkinson Theater, is based on Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson's novel Peter and the Starcatchers from Disney-Hyperion. The book is a prequel to the Peter Pan story, which imagines how Peter, Hook and all the rest came to be who they are).
I had the pleasure of seeing this production when it was off-Broadway at the New York Theater Workshop last year. There were many things to love about the show : the over the top antics of the flamboyant, vocabularily challenged pirate, Black Stache (Christian Borle, now of NBC's Smash), the machinations of the rather manly nanny Mrs. Bumbrake (Arnie Burton), the jubilant competitiveness of the intrepid thirteen year old heroine Molly Astor (Celia Keenan-Bolger), who is a born leader and knows it (a little too well). At the time, I wrote:
Do I believe in Tinkerbell? Well, not so much since she sold out and went all merchandise-y and commercial on us. But will I clap to show I believe in Black Stache and all his theatrical cohorts? I will, and I did, and I do believe - I believe in pirate divas, I believe in hairy men playing mermaids, I believe in political jokes mixed in with tender, heartbreakingly awkward first kisses.
And as it turns out, I still believe. I still believe that, in this age of glitz and technological wonder, a Broadway production can be about storytelling, and whimsy, and the relationships between characters and an audience. I believe that rotating stages and explosions and extravagant costuming can't hold a candle to a show which uses pieces of rope, toy ships, ladders, umbrellas, and actors' bodies to create sets, a show in which everything from shower caps to mustard spray bottles to kitchen vegetable steamers to cheap paper fans from Chinatown help transform men into mermaids.
In the end, what Peter and the Starcatcher remembers is that storytelling, like childhood itself, is about imagination. Not glitzy sets, not pre-packaged images, not shock and awe. By giving the production itself a hand-made, home-made feel, this show reminds us of the wonder and delight of childhood theatrical performances -- whether from elementary school, with the clothes from Grandma's attic, or in the endless green grass of your neighbor's summertime backyard. The show invites us all in, to enter Never Land, to return to the space within and among ourselves where we are still the Boys and Girls Who Never Grew Up.
So... to celebrate this wonderful show, I will give away a voucher for TWO TICKETS TO PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS which must be used before JUNE 1, 2012 to one whimsical and imaginative winner!
To qualify to win - all you have to do is to leave a 1-4 sentence comment below in which you imagine the 'prequel' to your favorite childhood story. I'll choose one winner at random and publish your story story at NOON EST one (1) week from today (May 3, 2012)!
So... For example, here's my 'prequel' to Alice in Wonderland: The Pink Princess was a pacifist. She loved planting flowers, and painting, and playing cards. Until one day a white rabbit came by, ate up her whole garden, trampled her paintings, and left tiny, stinky pellets on her decks of cards. Her rage swelled her, until she was no longer the pink princess, but a Red Queen, shrieking to all who came near, "off with their heads!"
Get it? Fun, easy, whimsical, right?
To increase your chances to win - Blog, Tweet or share on FB about the giveaway and leave the trackback! (If a winner doesn't respond with in 48 hours of the announcement, I'll chose another winner at random!)
To learn more about Peter and the Starcatcher, follow the show here:
Good luck everybody!