Brunswick High School students rehearsing “Peter and the Starcatcher” on Friday. The opening performance is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 18. C. Thacher Carter / The Times Record

Brunswick High School students are preparing to take the stage this week after a year of live theater was lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The curtain will rise Thursday to present “Peter and the Starcatcher,” and the cast of 25 is already feeling the excitement of being reunited with a live audience at Crooker Theater.

As described by the performers and directors, “Peter and the Starcatcher” is a humorous, musical prequel to the classic “Peter Pan” storyline. The show follows the origins of how Captain Hook and Peter Pan met and includes all the other usual characters.

The performers said the play breaks the fourth wall — meaning the actors occasionally interact with audience members directly.

“One thing that I really love is how unabashed the show is at making fun of its source material and the characters within it and not taking itself too seriously, while still be able to deliver an emotional core that really comes through throughout the whole entire story,” said Helen Walter, 16, who will be playing Lord Leonard Aster in her second play with Brunswick High.

In March 2020, like all in-person learning activities at Brunswick School Department, the theater program was temporarily shut down due to the pandemic, only a week before the opening of the spring musical. The program picked back up when school reopened with a hybrid learning model in September 2020 — though instead of performing for a live audience, students filmed shows and distributed them online.

While performers said they were grateful for the opportunity to continue acting, the thrill of a round of applause or burst of laughter from the audience was unquestionably missed.

“It was definitely a hard learning experience for all of us getting used to the social distancing, the masks, the filming, and sure, not everything was perfect but at least we were together,” said Sam Melquist, 18, who is playing Molly Aster in what will be her seventh show with the school. “What I appreciate so much about this show is I guess the moment I stepped back into the theater and when we were holding auditions it sort of felt like I was home finally.”

Performances will be held from Thursday, Nov. 18 to Saturday, Nov. 20. The show starts at 7 p.m. each night with an additional matinee performance at 2 p.m. Saturday.

“Peter and the Starcatcher” has won five Tony Awards and is an adaptation of Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s novels. The play was brought to the stage by directors Roger Rees and Alex Timbers, and was written by Rick Elice with music by Wayne Bark.

According to the show’s director, Linda Gardiner, rehearsal began in September, and the group meets three to four times a week. In addition to the camaraderie, Gardiner said the theater program gives students the chance to develop their confidence, public speaking and team building skills.

Brunswick High School students rehearsing on Friday, Nov. 12 . C. Thacher Carter / The Times Record

“You think you know who you are, you think you know where you stand, you think you know what you’re comfortable doing and then all of a sudden you’re dressed as a mermaid dancing and singing on stage,” said Logan Whelan, 16, who will be playing Black Stache for his fifth performance with the school. “Theater has taught me who I am, and it has given me so much confidence.”

According to Jaden Nicita, 15, who will be playing Peter Pan in his second performance for Brunswick, the opportunity to act and learn the personalities of various characters has made him a more compassionate person off-stage.

“You see the struggle that your character is going through and you want to advocate for them, but you also see the faults in them, because you aren’t them,” Nicita said. “I’m grateful to be back.”

For Nolan Kaiser, 16, the program has allowed him to meet new people and make good friends. This will be Kaiser’s second performance with the school, where he will be playing Missus Bumbrake.

“Being able to put in these hundreds upon hundreds of hours to see your finished product and it to be something you’re proud of is very, very rewarding,” Kaiser said.

Crooker Theater holds about 600 people and plays typically draw around 300 people per showing, according to Gardiner. The production was also guided by Assistant Director Michael Millett and Producer Carla Selberg.

Tickets can be purchased at the door or online. Admittance is $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. Masks are required.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.