Local theatre company Pangdemonium is taking a slightly different route with their upcoming production Peter and the Starcatcher. This show will be its first ever family-friendly production.
Set in 1885 Singapore, Peter and the Starcatcher follows Molly, a young Starcatcher-in-training, and three orphan boys on a secret mission. Together they must make sure the mystical “starstuff” doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Their mission leads them across seas infested with treacherous pirates, fearsome savages, dubious mermaids and evil kings.
Ahead of Peter and the Starcatcher’s Singapore premiere, which happens on September 28, we chatted with cast members Adrian Pang, Salif Hardie, and Thomas Pang to find out what audiences can expect from this production.
Adrian, you graduated university with a degree in law and psychology. What made you decide to go a different route and pursue acting instead?
Although I enjoyed studying certain aspects of Law as well as Psychology at uni, I’d dabbled in theatre since my teens. And when it came to my final year at uni, I had a mini panic attack when I realised that seriously continuing with either Law or Psychology meant having to grow up. I could hardly handle my own problems, let alone attempting to help other people with theirs.
And so I turned to the one thing I knew that I loved doing more than anything – prancing around on stage pretending to be other people. And because of that I’ve managed to avoid growing up for the past 30 years. Thank goodness I have Tracie, my awesome wife, who is the grown-up in the family.
Can you tell me a bit about Peter and the Starcatcher in your own words?
Adrian: Peter and the Starcatcher is a hilarious, exhilarating and outrageous origin story of Peter Pan, and is Pangdemonium’s first ever family show. Having earned a reputation for bringing audiences edgy, provocative and intense dramas, we wanted to have some fun and this show is the perfect fit for us, while still carrying with it a huge heart and a message of hope and empowerment for us all.
Salif: It should be crazy. I’m really looking forward to it because it’s a big piece. What that means, as an actor, is it is a whole lot of fun because I’ll be able to have so many opportunities to work with a lot of other actors and bounce off their energies and learn from them.
That is just what happens when you are in a room with a bunch of other people who are passionate about what you are passionate about. I would say that Peter and the Starcatcher is going to be a real royal rumble.
Thomas: It is the origin story of Peter Pan and the land of Neverland. But you also get to see where the magic of theater comes from. So, for example, I could pick up a broomstick and it becomes a sword or I’m on top of a table and it’s a ship. That is the magic of theater.
Thomas, you’re playing the role of Peter, right?
Yes, I am. He’s actually called Boy at the beginning, and then he gets his name later.
Adrian and Salif, can you tell me a little bit about the characters you’re playing?
Adrian: I play Black Stache, the most terrifying pirate to plague the Malacca Straits. Stache is famous for being a drama queen, and also for his enormous facial foliage.
Salif: I’m playing Prentiss. He’s one of Peter Pan’s best mates, so he’s very loyal to Peter Pan. He is also the bossy one and he’s confident and hard-headed. Of course, once we get down to working on it, I’ll be putting in my own flavours there.
Do you feel like you relate to these characters at all?
Adrian: Do I relate to a generously-moustached pirate who is a drama queen? Totally, except for the moustache.
Salif: I am stubborn and I am courageous, at least I think of myself as being courageous. So, yeah, I share a lot of things with Prentiss.
Why did you choose to adapt the production to an Asian setting?
Adrian: Once we got the rights to produce this show, we knew we wanted to do something very different from the Broadway version. And it dawned on us that it would be a fantastic idea for us to set our adaptation in 1885, when Singapore was a British colony, there were many orphans were being sold to slave ships, and the seas were still infested with pirates – the perfect launchpad to tell a story about how a Lost Boy finds his mojo to become the legendary Boy Who Never Grows Up.
Yes, Peter Pan was from Katong.
“Do I relate to a generously-moustached pirate who is a drama queen? Totally, except for the moustache.”
What can audiences look forward to?
Adrian: There are storms, shipwrecks, giant crocodiles, two love stories, silly songs, shocking betrayals, sword fights, flying cats, fearsome pirates, magical mutants, and some of the most questionable mermaids ever to “grace” the stage. You have been warned.
Salif: Audiences can look forward to a classic day at the theater. What I mean by that is people go to the theater to forget about life and forget about everything. It’s like watching a movie: you go to forget what’s going on. I think this is one of the first Pangdemonium plays to go full fantasy. This one is really going to be a treat for audiences because it’s going to be a whimsical journey and they’re going to have a lot of fun.
Thomas: You know how Disney movies, like The Lion King and Mulan, are made for kids but have a lot of adult humor in it? This is kind of like that. It is made for kids but it’s also written for adults, so a lot of adults will be able to enjoy all of the action and the references and jokes that are going on. Everybody can get into this sense of childlike wonder and magic.
Similarly, what are you looking forward to most?
Adrian: The opening of Act 2. I could tell you why but I’d have get Black Stache to kill you.
Salif: The cast is pretty star-studded and there are a bunch of people who have a lot of experience, which is really exciting. To be able to go into a production and know that pretty much everyone there is a full-time actor and you’re going to be around company that strive for excellence and want to play as much as you want to play is a blessing. Also, of course, working with Adrian and Tracie. To be able to work with the big players in the industry is really important to me.
Thomas: We all know Peter Pan flies, right? He always flies in all the movies and the plays. I’m not totally sure if I get to fly in this production or not, but I’m looking forward to maybe flying.