The Story Behind the Photo: "Peter and the Starcatcher"

Tania Thompson
 | Apr 02, 2021
Peter and the Starcatcher
Wyatt Fenner (in the air) and the cast of Peter and the Starcatcher (2015). Photo by Debora Robinson.

About ​​​the Play

They call him Boy, the orphan without a name. One day he’s whisked onto the good ship Neverland, and the century-old legend of Peter Pan gets its hilarious, exhilarating and wildly imaginative prequel. Sail with us across the seven seas as Boy becomes Peter in a swashbuckling tale of yesteryear, infused with pop culture imagery of today. Backstage called this winner of five Tony Awards “more fun than the proverbial barrelful of monkeys.”

“For this brief moment, we all believed we could fly.” That’s how director Art Manke remembers this moment (pictured above) in rehearsals and performances for Peter and the Starcatcher by Rick Elice (2015). Actor Wyatt Fenner’s character, Peter, leaped off the set and landed in a fabric-and-netting catch held taut by his fellow cast members. Here’s how Manke describes the magical moment.

What moment does this depict?

This is the moment when Peter takes flight.

How did you work to make this moment happen?

To ensure the safety of the brave and talented Wyatt Fenner (Peter), as well as the safety of the brave and talented ensemble of actors charged with the responsibility of catching him, we rehearsed this moment daily throughout the rehearsal period and prior to each performance through the closing night of the run. 

What’s the power about this moment?

This is the essential moment of freedom for Peter, whether we’re discussing the original J. M. Barrie Peter Pan or Rick Elice’s Peter and the Starcatcher. The childhood fantasy that we might be able to fly is, perhaps, the greatest—yet least attainable—joy we can imagine. This was the ultimate thrill for audiences and performers alike. I think it provided a communion of sorts: as Peter prepared to jump, nearly 500 people in the audience inhaled together; as he leapt into the air, we held our breath; and as he landed safely, we exhaled as one. For this brief moment, we all believed we could fly.

Anything else you’d like to say about the photo or the production?

Thanks to the casting work of the indefatigable and imaginative Joanne DeNaut (SCR’s casting director), we were able to proudly present this play with a diverse cast, providing role models for children of all ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds, and ​give everyone a world in which they could all enjoy the fantasy of flight.