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Theater review: 'Peter and the Starcatcher' -- 3 stars

Peter Pan and Black Stache

Peter Pan and Black Stache Photo Credit: Handout

Peter and the Starcatcher

3 stars

“Spider-Man” could learn a thing or two from “Peter and the Starcatcher,” an endlessly imaginative prequel to “Peter Pan” based on Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s children’s adventure novel.

Peter Pan never actually flies in the show. In fact, there are no million-dollar special effects and hardly any scenery. But that doesn’t prevent Rick Elice’s adaptation from capturing the swashbuckling whimsy of its source material.

The prequel takes place in Victorian England when Peter is a teenage orphan. Through a fateful mix-up, he meets Molly, a similarly aged upper-class girl who is guarding a magical substance known as “starstuff” with her father.

Captain Hook, here called Black Stache and still with both his hands intact, is chasing after the starstuff along with other pirates.

The production is marked by slapstick comedy mixed with sentiment. At first, the play feels rather disjointed and hard to follow because so much is going on. But once the familiar “Peter Pan” elements start to appear and come together, it begins to make more sense.

Adam Chanler-Berat portrays Peter as troubled, sad and lacking in the confident cockiness that later defines his character. Christian Borle makes for a flamboyant and silly Black Stache.

There are abuse scenes in the beginning, but this is definitely a show that mature children can enjoy just as much as their parents.

If you go: “Peter and the Starcatcher” plays at the New York Theatre Workshop through April 3. 79 E. Fourth St., 212-279-4200, nytw.org.

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