The Origins of Peter and the Starcatcher

Peter and the Starcatcher.

This prequel to the Peter Pan story is based on the series of best-selling books by humor columnist Dave Barry and the author of thrillers, Ridley Pearson.  Here, these two gentlemen relate, in their own words, how they came to create this story…


DAVE: In 2003, Ridley was staying at my house. At breakfast one morning, he told me he had an idea.

RIDLEY: I’d been reading Peter Pan with our five-year-old daughter when she’d asked me, “How did Peter meet Captain Hook in the first place?” That got me thinking. How did the boy learn to fly? Why did he never grow old? How could he detach from his shadow, and why would he need to? Dave and I thought we might be able to combine his humor and my suspense to tell an adventure story about a boy who became Peter Pan. But writing a book is hard enough when flying solo. How would two people collaborate to write a single story? We encountered some “technical difficulties” right away: I am an outliner. Dave is more seat of the pants.

DAVE: Ridley believed — this is going to sound crazy — that we should figure out the plot of the book BEFORE we wrote it. So we spent a few weeks figuring out how to make a boy fly, and where Tinker Bell might have come from, and why there’s a Never Land, among other things. We ended up with a story that made us both happy. We wrote the book by a process we called “ping pong.” One of us would write a chapter and email it to the other guy, who would change whatever he wanted, then email the result back. Then the first guy might change it some more, and so on. We originally thought we’d write a short book, maybe 100 pages. We ended up with Peter and the Starcatchers, which was more than 450 pages long, and which was on the Times bestseller list for almost a year. Writing that book with Ridley was the most fun I’ve ever had in this business. Seeing Rick Elice, Roger Rees and Alex Timbers turn it into a Broadway play—a fantastic Broadway play—is beyond anything either of us ever imagined.

RIDLEY: Two years later I sat down on my daughter’s bed and reminded her of the question she’d asked me long ago. I pulled out a 450 page manuscript. Her eyes went wide. “Uncle Dave” and I had come up with a possible answer to her question about Peter and Hook. I suggested we read it together during her bedtime reading hour. We ended up not only reading, but laughing. Eight years passed and I walked with both our daughters along 47th Street approaching a brightly lit, colorful marquee: Peter and the Starcatcher. On Broadway. My daughters clutched my arms a little tighter and together we melded into the swarming crowd. I thought to myself, there really is such a thing as magic.


If you’re interested in learning more about this wonderfully imaginative show, check out the show page on our website here:

We also invite you to learn a little more about the creative ways this show builds it’s set, and utilizes it during the performance. Take a look at this video to learn more!

Posted in At Wharton Center, Behind the Scenes, MSUFCU Broadway Series

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