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Local students shine in Pocket Theatre's ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’


Peter and the Starcatcher — Photo provided by Lanie Carlson

With just two shows left of the 2022 season, the Pocket Community Theatre has just wrapped up its second youth show of the season, Peter and the Starcatcher.


The production, which wrapped Sept. 4, is based off Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson's children’s novel, Peter and the Starcatchers. The story acts as a prequel to the familiarly loved story of Peter Pan.


“When I first saw the show at the REP (Arkansas Repertory Theatre), I really loved the way it was staged,” Play Director Lanie Carlson said. “How actors played multiple roles and reused props. I loved the songs, especially Mermaid Out of Me.


"Just the magic of it all in telling a fresh new version in the Peter Pan cannon. "I realized this style was similar to what I used as a teaching artist when creating workshops and experiences for kids.”


The production used what’s called “story theatre,” which is the dramatic presentation of a story told by a group of actors playing multiple roles and providing narration. At times, the entire cast of youths would narrate what’s happening in unison — working to great comedic effect.


The character of Peter Pan, who is called “Boy” for much of the play, was portrayed by Seth Henley. Henley is a freshman at Lakeside High School with several other roles under his belt, such as Jem in To Kill a Mockingbird, and Slim in Oklahoma.


Henley played opposite Marshall Keenan, who acted as "Black Stache" ( better known as Captain Hook before gaining his iconic name and prosthetic) and Sidney Bohlen, who played Molly Aster. Aster is a young girl being trained by her father to become the next Starcatcher.


Keenan made his stage debut in the production while Bohlen has performed in other productions at the Pocket Theatre, such as Charlotte’s Web and Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. Bohlen was elated to find out she would be playing the part of Molly Aster. In all her various roles, this is her first lead.


The entire cast was comprised of local students from the greater Hot Springs area.


Peter and the Starcatcher — Photo provided by Lanie Carlson

“I am very pleased with how this production went,” Carlson said. “These kids worked so hard and took on the challenge of performing a full-length adult play with music. I am so proud of how they developed their characters and learned so much about the art of theatre. I think it is clear how much the audience enjoyed their performances.”


The cast sang a total of eight numbers during the show — five in Act I, and three in Act II. The music for the play, which was adapted by Rick Elice, was written by Wayne Barker.


This charming production was a great addition to many of the child actors’ repertoire, and a perfect show for entry as well.

"Playing Black Stache was a fun and interesting role,” Keenan said. “I auditioned for all the roles hoping that I could land one, and I originally got Slank, and when one of our guys quit, the director called me and asked me if I wanted that role, and of course I said ‘yes.’ Being in a production at the Pocket was a very fun and interesting time in my life. I learned how to become more involved in public and during this time I got rid of my stage fright."


Keenan has not had the chance to learn what types of roles he enjoys playing yet, as this was his first role, but hopes to audition for the upcoming production of A Christmas Story at the Pocket. He is currently a junior at Bismarck High School, and participates in choir and band. He plans to pursue a degree in theatre performance arts and a teaching degree from Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia upon graduation. Keenan has high hopes of landing a career on Broadway, but also looks forward to becoming a high school choir or drama teacher.


Peter and the Starcatcher — Photo provided by Lanie Carlson

Bohlen’s career aspirations are very similar as she hopes to one day become a professional performer — but she isn’t sure yet if it will be dancing or acting. She’s also weighing the possibility of becoming a dance teacher.


“It was fun to be someone who didn't have a long break between scenes,” Bohlen said. “I liked being on stage frequently. It was exciting to be Molly because I think she's a very determined girl. One of my favorite parts of the play is when Black Stache puts me in a headlock. It was a fun scene, although my most favorite scene is being on top of the mountain. It was exciting to be that high on stage. The scene where I ‘fly’ is also a favorite. I also met a lot of new people through this play and it was really hard to say goodbye to all of them."


Bohlen’s next move is to focus on her upcoming dance competition season. She dances competitively for Natural State Dance Company and trains in several genres of dance, but her solo dance performance is in the musical theatre category. She also dances on her Jr. High dance team.


For Carlson, it’s time for a break. She appeared in the Pocket’s August production of Music Man as Eulalie Makecknie Shinn, while also directing Peter and the Starcatcher. But after a short rest, she plans to audition for the upcoming production of A Christmas Story, all the while maintaining her busy schedule as a teaching artist in classrooms around Arkansas and on www.starstuffstudio.com.


The preparations for the theatre’s next play are currently underway. Curtains open for Death of a Salesman Friday, Oct. 7. The play, directed by Kevin Day, is set for 7 p.m. Oct. 7, 8, 14 and 15, and at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 9 and 16. Adult tickets are $20, seniors and students cost $15.


For more information, visit www.pockettheatre.com, find @pocket.communitytheatre on Facebook or call 501-623-8585. The Pocket Community Theatre is located at 170 Ravine St. in Hot Springs.


Pocket Community Theatre