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A Chat With Nancy Gibbs, Producer of SHN's 'Peter and the Starcatcher'

Up next in the theater season being presented by Broadway importers SHN is the Peter Pan prequel, Peter and the Starcatcher.  Following up its successful Broadway run, the musical creatively tells the story of how Peter Pan became the boy who would never grow up, using an ensemble of a dozen actors playing over a hundred characters.

The play is based on the bestselling novel Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, and its San Francisco run opens at the Curran Theater on November 5. 7x7 caught up with producer Nancy Nigel Gibbs who happens to have long ties to S.F., and to the Curran.

What is your history with San Francisco and the Curran?

A group of nine of us who were working in a dinner theatre in Greeley, Colorado, moved to San Francisco to do a show in the spring of 1976.  We talked to the pastor of a small church off Polk Street and walked out with the key to the church so we could do our musical Shine as long as we sang in church every Sunday.  We did our show, got a couple of reviews, ran it for three weekends and at the end the pastor gave a sermon called “The Impossible Dream”.  Some of our group went to ACT’s summer school that summer. I took a job at the Curtain Call, the piano bar across the street from the Curran (now a Starbucks).  I met the manager of the Curran who had the sold out run of A Matter of Gravity, one of the last plays Katherine Hepburn took on the road.  Then I met my first company manager and a year later I moved to New York to become a theatrical manager.

What can you tell me about the show, its creators, and how it relates to Peter Pan?

It was commissioned by Disney as it is based on a book from Disney publishing, Peter and the Starcatchers.  After a workshop at Williamstown, a page to stage at La Jolla and a full production at New York Theatre Workshop, I found a group of independent producers to move this origin story of Peter Pan (how he and Captain Hook got their names and how Tinker Bell came to be).  It is very theatrical as 12 actors play 100 parts and the set is based on many recycled and found objects.

Is it the kind of thing adults can appreciate?

Our audience is for all ages though best for children over the age of 10.  It is a great show for families, a date night, and old-fashioned, smart theatregoers.  It is a clever story that tells how these familiar characters land on the island. In the second act there are hysterically funny mermaids and the famous beach scene that makes you laugh until tears roll down your cheeks.

Anything you'd like to add?

I am thrilled to be returning to where my first professional theatre job was, in a jewel box of a traditional theatre with a play that was directed by one of our great actors, Roger Rees, as well as a major up-and-coming director who is taking the theatre by storm

Peter and the Starcatcher plays through December 1. Get tickets here.