Theatre Arts Department Invited to Attend Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival

Feb 15, 2024
Westfield State's production of "Peter and the Starcatcher". A lone student wearing a blue dress is standing on top of a wooden chest on stage. Their hands and arms are splayed out above their head, at their sides. Several other actors surround them as they perform.

"Peter and the Starcatcher", which depicts preluding events to that of "Peter Pan".

On Friday, January 26, the University’s Theatre Arts Department hosted their final dress rehearsal of a Peter and the Starcatcher, a Tony-winning play originally created by Rick Elice. The play is an adaptation of the novel written by Dave Barry and Ridly Pearson and serves as a prequel for the canonical events of Peter Pan. Playbill, on their website, gives a brief description of the play:

“Tony-winning Peter and the Starcatcher upends the century-old story of how a miserable orphan comes to be The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up (a.k.a. Peter Pan). A wildly theatrical adaptation of Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s best-selling novels, the play was conceived for the stage by directors, Roger Rees and Alex Timbers, and written by Rick Elice, with music by Wayne Barker. From marauding pirates and jungle tyrants to unwilling comrades and unlikely heroes, Peter and the Starcatcher playfully explores the depths of greed and despair... and the bonds of friendship, duty, and love.”

Westfield State's production of Peter and the Starcatcher. An actor is standing on a wooden treasure chest atop a stage, wearing a pirate's costume. Several other actors in costumes surround them.
The University's production of "Peter and the Starcatcher".

Directed by Professor of Theatre Arts, Eric Parness, the University’s version of Peter and the Starcatcher, was invited to perform at the Region 1 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF). KCACTF is a national program that engages with 18,000 students from universities across the nation in the spirit and joy of theater.

The Kennedy Center itself offers a wide array of workshops, programs, exhibitions and concerts in an effort to cultivate and hone the craft in those carrying the work forward. Due to the size of the KCACTF, the festival is broken into varying regions in the country, with Region 1 being held at Central Connecticut State University, from January 30-February 4. Out of 37 eligible productions, the University was one out of five chosen to showcase their version of Peter and the Starcatcher, with their original run ending in November of last year.

Fellow faculty members who attended the final dress rehearsal on January 26 applauded the cast and production.

“I attended the dress rehearsal of "Peter and the Starcatcher" on Friday night and it was wonderful,” Madeleine Cahill, Professor of Communication said. “So much talent and such hard work went into creating a thoroughly delightful experience.”

Sophia Sarigianides, a Professor and Coordinator of English, along with Max Saito, another Professor of Communication, agreed with Cahill’s sentiments, describing the production as “wonderful” and “fantastic”.

“It’s a testament to the exceptional talent and hard work of our student cast and crew,” James McNamara, Chair and Professor of Lighting and Sound Design in the Theatre Arts Department said. “Their dedication and passion have propelled this production to be recognized among the best in the region.”