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La Jolla Playhouse-Launched ‘Peter And The Starcatcher’ Wins Big At Tonys

Above: The cast of "Peter and the Starcatcher" which won five Tony Awards at this year's ceremony. The play had its start at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2009.

I was thrilled to see "Peter and the Starcatcher" do so well at the Tonys last night. I saw the play last month in New York and fell hard for its inventive storytelling and design, as well as for Christian Borle's performance as the mustache-twirling Black Stache (precursor to Captain Hook).

Aired 6/11/12 on KPBS News.

The inventive "Peter and the Starcatcher" won the five Tony awards at last night's ceremony. The story with origins in Peter Pan - but for adults! - got an early start at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2009 as part of the Page to Stage program.

Tony winner Christian Borle as Black Stache and Adam Chanler-Berat as The Boy (who would not grow up!)
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Above: Tony winner Christian Borle as Black Stache and Adam Chanler-Berat as The Boy (who would not grow up!)

"Starcatcher" got its start at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2009 as part of the theater's Page to Stage program, which helps develop new plays.

Borle, who also stars in the NBC show "Smash," won the Tony in the Best Featured Actor category. His high-energy performance and evil-comic turn was such a surprise. I saw the play with my mother, who I thought might fall out of the chair she laughed so hard every time he was on stage.

Backstage after his win, Borle told UT theater critic Jim Hebert that working at the Playhouse on "Peter and the Starcatcher" was special. "It’s easy now to look back and see that magical time for what it was, which is the seed of what this all is. But what I felt was that I was involved in one of the best collaborations with a group of people I’d ever had.”

Borle beat out Andrew Garfield (this summer's cinematic Spiderman), whose performance as Biff in the revival of "Death of a Salesman" has been widely praised.

Based on a series of kids' adventure novels by the humorist Dave Barry and the thriller writer Ridley Pearson, "Peter and the Starcatcher" tells the origin-story of Peter Pan, replete with pirates, mermaids, island natives and warring ships. Despite its source material, this is a play for adults, with witty zingers flying left and right (the script is by Rick Elice, who co-wrote "Jersey Boys").

The very cool poster for the celebrated "Peter and the Starcatcher."
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Above: The very cool poster for the celebrated "Peter and the Starcatcher."

The remaining Tony wins celebrated "Starcatcher's" inventive, DIY set design. It won in the categories of sound, sets, lighting, and costume design. The latter went to UC San Diego graduate and North County native Paloma Young.

I loved everything about the set -which is a crafter's dream. Set designer Donyale Werle used recycled materials and everyday objects to conjure up the seafaring scenes and the far away lands of the play. Check out the video that takes you into her workshop.

Video

"Peter and the Starcatcher" Set Design

Above: Set designer Donyale Werle won a Tony Award for her set design for the La Jolla Playhouse-bred "Peter and the Starcatcher."

Even the design of "Starcatcher's" logo has been getting some love.

"Peter and the Starcatcher" came in second for the number of Tony awards won; the most wins went to the musical "Once," which is based on the small indie film with music by Glen Hansard of the Irish band The Frames and the folk duo The Swell Season.

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