• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Woodford Theatre’s ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’ opens May 17

‘PETER AND THE STARCATCHER’ at the Woodford Theatre features, from left, Nick Vannoy (Stache), Jordan Strouse (boy/Peter) and Kesley Waltermire (Molly Aster). Based on a novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, this prequel to “Peter Pan” tells the story of how Peter became the boy who wouldn’t grow up. (Woodford Theatre photo)

“Peter and the Starcatcher” doesn’t rely on an elaborate set, but instead asks its audience to use their imagination while being entertained by the actors who create a ship bound for a distant island. Director Evan Bergman says the playfulness of Woodford Theatre’s upcoming production of “Peter” will reawaken an appreciation for the power of imagination in audiences. “It’s definitely a play that flexes the audience’s imagination, absolutely,” says Kelsey Waltermire, who plays Molly Aster. “… it’s really fun.” Based on a novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, this prequel to “Peter Pan” tells the story of how Peter became the boy who wouldn’t grow up. Jordan Strouse, a 19-year-old sophomore at Transylvania University, who “just rocked” his audition to play that boy, according to Bergman, shares the Woodford Theatre stage with an ensemble including Molly, a starcatcher-in-training. Waltermire says she and Strouse had “the coldest read” ever at a rehearsal “and it was just perfect.” “And I remember thinking,” the 21-year-old adds, “okay, well if I get this part, I really want him (Strouse) to be Peter. He’s wonderful.” Waltermire says she appreciates being able to play a strong female character she describes as vivacious and bold – a girl willing to stick to her convictions. “She does have her moments where she shows emotion and where she shows fear and human emotion,” Waltermire explains, “but she also shows strength and bravery. And I think it’s really cool to have a character that represents all types of emotion as opposed to just the stereotypical … damsel in distress.” Woodford Theatre’s artistic director asked Bergman if he’d direct “Peter and the Starcatcher,” and “… I don’t ever say no to Trish Clark,” he said with a laugh. Having worked on this show as an actor with Virginia Repertory Theatre in 2015, Bergman understood the potential of this whimsical play – a prequel to “Peter Pan” – and “wanted to take a crack at” the story as a director. Woodford Theatre’s “Peter and the Starcatcher” opens Friday, May 17, with performances continuing through Sunday, June 2. Friday and Saturday night performances begin at 8, with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. There’s also a special Thursday night performance May 30 at 7:30 p.m. For tickets ($22 for adults and $15 for students), visit woodfordtheatre.org or call the box office at 873-0648.

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