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'Peter and the Starcatcher' promises magical night of theater

January 02, 2014

A fear of math led Nathan Hosner to the Broadway stage. 

The Chicago-based actor, who will be performing at ASU Gammage this month as part of the Tony Award-winning play "Peter and the Starcatcher," got his start in theater while roaming the halls of his junior high school. He was supposed to be in math class. 

Instead, Hosner was approached by the school's choir teacher, who encouraged him to audition for her ensemble. When he told her he didn't sing, she asked him to give it a try anyway. 

It just so happened the auditions were taking place right that moment – perfect timing, he thought. 

Hosner, who, it turned out, had a very nice voice, has since made a career for himself in theater – working in London and New York, performing Shakespeare and earning a degree from the London Royal Academy of Arts. 

Now, he appears in the role of Lord Aster, among others, in a play described as "the grownup's prequel to Peter Pan." 

It's an origins story, Hosner explains. "Here we find out how Peter Pan became Peter Pan and how Captain Hook became Captain Hook," he says. 

The play is based on Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson's 2006 novel of a similiar name, and provides the backstory for many of the characters in J. M. Barrie's novel "Peter and Wendy."

So why is it intended for adults? 

"It's a really smart, funny, heartfelt play, with the added dimension of music to enhance the comedy and storytelling. It very much appeals to adults," Hosner says. 

"What I love about this play is that we invite you to engage with it the way you would have as a kid. It allows us to have that playfulness – that sense of fun that sometimes we push into the background as we grow older. It's a reminder to get back to that place."

Helping us on that magical journey each night, the castmembers of "Peter and the Starcatcher" put on an impressively lively show, with each actor playing a wide variety of roles. According to Hosner, there are more than a hundred characters performed in the play.

The New York Times has called the show "the most exhilarating storytelling on Broadway in decades." 

For Hosner, the road from math class has been long and filled with success. Touring with the company of "Peter and the Starcatcher" across the country has been a delight, he says. 

"It's fun to be in big cities, like Seattle and San Francisco, but I also like taking this show to places a little off the beaten path" – places like East Lansing, Mich., not far from his fortuitous choir audition many years ago, when he was just a boy.

For those interested in voyaging back to their youth, no fairy dust is necessary. Simply visit the Gammage box office or call 480-965-3434 to purchase tickets to one of the evening or matinee performances slated for Jan. 14-19.

And let your imagination take flight.