Peter Pan, Sans Strings and Full of Sparkle

"Peter and the Starcatcher" alights at the Ahmanson.

As far as indelible impressions and childhood stories go, "Peter Pan" is at the tippy-top of the heap (or perhaps the tippy-top of Big Ben is more apt).

We recall the adventures of J.M. Barrie's book, the tick-tock clock and Captain Hook's hook from the Disney film, and Mary Martin on a wire from the stage. In fact, you can probably name a dozen indelible things about the tale of the Boy Who Never Grew Up, but how Peter reached Wendy's window, mischievious shadow in tow, on that fateful first night is another yarn entirely.

Good news: Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson wrote that very yarn and it's called "Peter and the Starcatcher." Dub it a prequel, of sorts, if you like, but prequel is far too pat a term for a rollicking novel that grew a pair of sparkly wings and flew to Broadway, where it proceeded to win five Tony awards and a boatload of accolades beyond.

The mondo, merry musical is set for its Los Angeles bow on Wednesday, Dec. 4 at the Ahmanson Theatre.

So who was Peter Pan, before he donned his iconic feathered cap and placed his hands on his hips at regular intervals and took up with a charmingly irascible fairy? He befriended pirates, lots of 'em, as you might expect and swashbuckled into adventures aplenty.

Surprised? Nope. This is what we want from one of childhood's most confident characters, a boy who showed young readers that going shoulders-back into a challenging situation is often the best course.

A few interesting to-knows about "Peter and the Starcatcher": There are no strings and wires. Nope. Don't look up, because no one is flying overhead. The actors, all of 12 of them, will be too busy assuming new characters and costumes, as there are over a hundred in all.

And where do younger theater goers stand? It's a production that's a-ok for Peterists ages 10 and up.

That's kind of perfect, right? Since the tween years are about the time we begin to truly reflect on our own very recent pasts and what it means to grow up.

"Peter and the Starcatcher" brandishes its swords at the Ahmanson from Dec. 4 through Jan. 12.

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