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A CurtainUp Review

Straight On 'Til Morning
By Jenny Sandman

Michael Colby Jones as Peter and David L. Carson as Price
Michael Colby Jones as Peter and David L. Carson as Price
(Photo: Jude Domski )
This is the centennial anniversary of J.M. Barrie's classic Peter Pan and Trish Harnetiaux has written a new adaptation. In her version, entitled Straight On 'Til Morning, Peter and his buddies live in 2004 Williamsburg as urban hipsters.

Peter is a wild, untamed rock band scout. He lives with his girlfriend Moira, parties and hangs out in bars until all hours, and generally leads a carefree existence. In light of his constant partying, the phrase "straight on 'til morning" can be construed in a whole new light.

Like so many modern urban hipster men, Peter is trapped in a prolonged adolescence. He's 30 and still staying out with his pals every night, all night. He doesn't have a steady paycheck. He can't commit to his girlfriend. He runs from all his problems. The sea change that presages adulthood brings dread that makes him incapable of facing reality and the choice between his partying life style and his future with Moira.

Tinkerbell is Peter's indie rock chick friend, Isabele, who never wears a coat and is a little in love with him. His oddly frenetic friend Nico (the substitute for the Lost Boys) works in a video store and has ambitions for becoming a Tarantino style film director. Constantly living on the fast-forward button, the lithe and frantic Nico performs most of the set changes.

Instead of taking Wendy off to Never Land, Harnetiaux's Peter battles over the remains of the deserted and graffiti covered McCarren Pool which he wants to turn into a rock concert pit for up-and-coming local bands. However, a local real estate developer named , Hoard has other ideas. Hoard, who might more accurately be called Horde since he's the Captain Hook stand-in (complete with partially missing hand) wants to turn the pool into fancy overpriced condos for yuppies. Naturally, the kids who would benefit from Peter's plan launch a protest to keep the neighborhood "authentic" and free from a mob of trendy Manhattanites. The conflict builds to an ugly drunken confrontation in the neighborhood bar. When the fight over the pool comes to a head and Peter's past and future converge headlong with his precious present.

All too often modernizations of classics are disappointing, but Straight On 'Til Morning is an oddly appealing show. It's not only thought provoking and often thoroughly entertaining.

The cast is uniformly excellent, with Michael Colby Jones as Peter a standout. His magnetic personality is a perfect match for the character. He's winsome and charming and childishly appealing, and you understand perfectly why grounded, sedate Moira loves him so, even when he breaks her heart. Jason Griffin as Nico and Corey Tazmania Stieb as Isabele serve as energetic counterparts. With such spontaneous friends in such a wonderland of grittiness and parties and booze, it's not surprising that Peter is reluctant to embrace adulthood. The ensemble's pure, raw energy resonates in its authenticity.

Sarah Pearline's faux brick set perfectly embodies the true Williamsburg, the erstwhile immigrant and starving artist mecca lately turned trendy. Rabiah Troncelliti's costumes are splendid, especially Peter's beat-up John Deere trucker hat and Nico's elaborately deconstructed retro-punker look.

As icing on the cake, there's free Rheingold beer at each performance. At $15 a ticket, you can't ask for a better bargain.

Written by Trish Harnetiaux
Directed by Jude Domski
With David L. Carson, Michael Colby Jones, Maurice Edwards, Edward Furs, Jason Griffin, Corey Tazmania Steib, and Kate Turnbull
Lighting Design by Steve O'Shea
Sound Design Owen O'Malley
Costume Design by Rabiah Troncelliti
Set Design by Sarah Pearline
Running time: Ninety minutes with no intermission
78th Street Theatre Lab, 236 West 78th Street; SmartTix 212-868-4444
9/03/04 to 9/25/04. Wednesdays-Saturdays at 8pm, with an additional 8pm performance on Monday, September 20th. Tickets are $15 -- open seating.
Reviewed by Jenny Sandman based on September 9th performance
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