Photograph by Kristiina Wilson
The story of Peter Pan has long been a metaphor for a gay man’s youth-centric lifestyle. For Peter and the Starcatcher, a staged prequel to J. M. Barrie’s original Peter and Wendy, it took someone with the ability to channel the story’s childlike energy into a believable origin story. Adam Chanler-Berat, who most recently played leading man Mark in an Off-Broadway production of Rent, combines gangly innocence with a bit of scruff -- making you forget that a smooth-faced lady has traditionally played Peter.
“Yeah, I have some shadow in the show, but I think it suggests to the audience, whether you’re eight or 45, You have to use your imagination,” says Chanler-Berat. “It’s interesting being male and playing the role, but, in my mind, it’s a more courageous way of approaching that person and his humanity.”
Peter would be nothing without an adversary, however, and he’s found his match in Christian Borle’s Black Stache (the precursor to Captain Hook). A seasoned Broadway actor and the star of NBC’s Smash, Borle brings a highly physical comedy -- leaping, flopping, and twisting his body -- despite the pain, which also garnered him a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play. “The show does keep me in shape,” Borle says. “I wear the bruises like badges of honor.”
Peter and the Starcatcher is currently running at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in Manhattan.