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Hip to Be Square
by Kerri Allen
Straight On 'Til Morning reviewed September 11, 2004
Michael Colby Jones as Peter and David L. Carson as Price in Straight On 'Til Morning
Yuppies may be moving to Williamsburg, but hipsters on the Upper West Side? Yes, it is true—at least for now. Until September 25, you can find Rheingold beer cans and trucker caps a-plenty on 78th and Broadway. The catalyst for this unlikely emigration across the East River is Trish Harnetiaux's sturdy new play, Straight On ‘Til Morning. The inspired script unabashedly explores the trappings of youth culture by way of J.M. Barrie’s Peter pan, re-imagined for contemporary Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

As in the original play, Peter (Michael Colby Jones) has traveled away from home—this time to an outer borough of New York City—to dodge the impending responsibilities of adulthood. In the Neverland of Williamsburg, Peter is the arrogant “It”-boy who discovers indie-rock bands, organizes various “fests” and eschews all dominant societal mores for the norms of the neighborhood. Michael Colby Jones siphons some of Kiefer Sutherland’s arrogance in Stand By Me and simultaneously imbues a latent charm into Peter to help justify his widespread popularity.

Peter's corn-fed girlfriend Moira (Kate Turnbull) has just moved into his apartment when his (gasp!) Connecticut roots come back to haunt him. A surprise visit from Uncle Price (David L. Carson) reveals painful truths about Peter’s brother, Michael, and the life he left outside of Brooklyn: a tragic past that he happily crumpled up and threw away a decade ago.

Jason Griffin as Nico in Straight On 'Til Morning
Anchoring Peter in Neverland is ex-girlfriend and current cohort Isabele (Corey Tazmania Stieb)—Tinkerbell with fishnets. The pair marinate in their own hipness as Peter's energetic friend Nico (Jason Griffin) cannot find a way to fit in, despite appropriate attire and a penchant for short films.

Harnetiaux has brilliantly interweaved her adaptation with facts from Barrie’s life and the plot of his best-known tale. The play comes right in time for the centennial celebration of Peter Pan. But this Peter is only part Pan. Harnetiaux modeled Peter and Michael after two of the five Llewelyn Davies boys, children who Barrie eventually adopted. Three of the boys died tragically, one in World War I, another drowned, and Peter—the namesake for Barrie’s most revered character—committed suicide at age 63.

Director Jude Domski has crafted a swift production with a sure-fit cast. From the dejected scenester, Nico, to the old, Italian bartender, Friendly (Maurice Edwards), Domski and Harnetiaux have sublimely straddled the magic and lure of a community like Williamsburg and the frustrations caused by a transient group within an ever-changing neighborhood.

Much is owed to Sarah Pearline who uses the small studio lab to create balconies, barrooms and bedrooms with faux exposed brick and great imagination. Steve O’Shea’s lights embrace the space lovingly while Owen O'Malley's soundtrack seamlessly underscores the story, right down to the original exit song, “Neverland.”

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78th Street Theatre Lab (3rd floor)
Category:  Drama
Written by:  Trish Harnetiaux
Directed by:  Jude Domski
Produced by:  not available
Opened:  September 3, 2004
Closed:  September 25, 2004
Running Time:  100 mins

Theater:  78th Street Theatre Lab (3rd floor)
Address:  236 W. 78th Street
New York, NY 10024
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Click for  Theater Listing
Tickets:  $15.00
none available
Creative Team
Written by:  Trish Harnetiaux
Directed by:  Jude Domski
Produced by:  Morning Line Productions
Light Designer:  Steve O'Shea
Sound Designer:  Owen O'Malley
Set Designer:  Sarah Pearline
Costume Designer:  Rabiah Troncelliti

Michael Colby Jones as Peter
Maurice Edwards as Friendly
Jason Griffin as Nico
Kate Turnbull as Moira
David L. Carson as Price
Corey Tazmania Stieb as Isabele
Edward Furs as Hoard

Stage Manager:  Eve Gibson
Associate:  Heidi Handelsman