Menlo News April 25, 2023

Shipwrecks, Mermaids, and Stardust Descend on the Spieker Stage

Don’t miss the Upper School Drama Department’s final production of the year!

Featuring 12 actors in over 100 roles, Peter and the Starcatcher is the origin story of Peter Pan. You’ll learn how an orphan became the world’s most famous boy, how the Lost Boys got lost, how Tinker found her bell, how Wendy never gave up hope, and more. Adapted from the popular children’s novel by Palo Alto’s own Rick Elice, this Tony Award-winning play with music features audience participation, a gigantic cast of characters, and is guaranteed to end the 2023 Upper School Drama season on a high note.

“This play is a great community builder,” says drama teacher Steven Minning. “It’s a feel-good play, yet it also has a lot of real-life struggles in it. We all know the story of Peter Pan, but we don’t know what happened before that. It’s so well-written—it tugs at your heart, but it’s also very funny. And the students are the storytellers. They have to build their own set-pieces and be their own engineers to figure out how to make something work. The characters tell stories and break the fourth wall. It’s really about engaging the audience and making them part of the story. That’s one of the main reasons why I chose the show.”

Amory ’24 adds, “It’s very unique in that regard. It’s something that Menlo Drama hasn’t done in a long time, or even at all. We are the storytellers—telling the story to the audience, breaking that fourth wall, figuring out where we should go and what it should look like. Sometimes when we struggle with a scene, Mr. Minning will just say, ‘This is your story. Show me what you want to do.’ Everyone gets to have input, there’s a lot of teamwork involved, and it’s a lot of fun.”

“This play in particular has everything that people love about theater,” says Charlie ’24, about what to expect from the last drama production of the season. “It’s silly and it’s playful and it’s thoughtful and it’s very imaginative. It’s also very different from a lot of the things that Menlo drama traditionally does. It’s story theater, so we have very few props. We, the actors, are the ocean and the doors and the hallways—that’s why there are so many roles. We’re inviting the audience to trust us, and that we’re going to take them on a journey that is very rewarding. Plus, everyone loves Peter Pan.”

According to Isla ’24, the last play of the year might just be the best one yet. “The chemistry between the cast is really tangible,” she says. “It’s fun to watch because you can tell that we are having so much fun making this work of art come to life. After putting in so many months of work, I just think it’s fun for people to come see us do what we love to do.”

Mr. Minning hopes this production will provide the perfect send-off to a successful season at the Spieker Center for the Arts: “This is an especially perfect show for our students. We have very bright students who are very clever and will take an idea and be their own detectives to figure out how to make something work. As the creators, they all have a stake in what happens and how it looks. They really make it all come to life. It’s also a show about hope and what a great way to send our seniors out—with the hope that they’ll continue to be the best citizens they can as they continue on their journey after Menlo.”

The Upper School Drama Department presents Peter and the Starcatcher on Friday, Apr. 28-Saturday Apr. 29, 7:30 pm, and Sunday, Apr. 30, 5:00 pm, at the Spieker Center for the Arts. Tickets are available to purchase here.