For Edward Tournier, the late-March stop at the McCallum Theatre for the traveling Peter and the Starcatcher production will be a Southern California homecoming, of sorts: The actor, who now calls New York City home, spent seven years in the Los Angeles theater scene.
Tournier, who plays always-hungry orphan Ted in the humorous Peter Pan prequel, is one of L.A. theater’s biggest defenders.
“It gets a bad rap around the country, because people claim the actors there only want to be in film and TV,” says Tournier, 30. “But it’s a community where there are God knows how many actors, and it’s the most vibrant breeding ground for new plays that I’ve ever come across. That’s why I stayed there for so long. People there are passionate about theater.”
Shortly after moving to New York City about a year ago, Tournier earned his first touring role in Peter and the Starcatcher, a play written by Rick Elice based on the humorous and whimsical novel penned by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. The play had a successful nine-month stint on Broadway in 2012 and 2013, during which it nabbed nine Tony Award nominations—including five wins.
The current tour began last August in Denver, and is slated to conclude in Boston in June. The Independent spoke to Tournier by phone when he was in chilly Minneapolis, shortly before he was to take the stage for the touring production’s 200th show.
“It’s funny: In L.A., if you’re doing a play, you will do three or four performances a week for a relatively short amount of time, like a month or so, or six weeks, for a total of 12 to 15 performances,” he said. “For us (on tour), that’s a drop in the bucket.”
He said the biggest difference between doing eight shows or so per week and doing three or four is the stamina that’s required of the cast and crew—especially since Peter and the Starcatcher is such a physical show.
Another challenge has been keeping the show fresh, Tournier said. Tournier’s character is a mistreated orphan who gets taken under the figurative wings of young Peter and Molly, and he spends much of his time dealing with an overwhelming food obsession.
“It’s a funny, sweet role,” Tournier said. “A lot of my lines are one-liners or punch lines. It’s interesting to gauge how they go over in different regions. Comedy, of course, depends on timing, and … it can be a challenge to keep things from getting stale.”
One of Tournier’s favorite aspects of Peter and the Starcatcher is its theatricality, he said: Twelve actors play 100 different roles; with the help of an onstage band and the audience’s collective imagination, they create the world of Neverland on what Tournier referred to as a bare-bones set.
“This is a play for theater-lovers,” he said. “The things done onstage could not be done in any other medium.”
He said it’s magical to see each audience get engaged in the world that they help create.
“I call it lightning in a bottle,” he said. “It takes such sleight of hand to create this play with limited effects.”
Tournier said that the play is meant for all ages; like with the great cartoons of old, children and adults will each find different levels of humor.
“(The play) really draws on a lot of old theater traditions,” he said.
Peter and the Starcatcher is coming to the renowned McCallum as the Palm Desert venue—one of the busiest in the country during the winter and spring months—enters its homestretch before largely going dark during the summer. In April, the McCallum will host Broadway great Patti LuPone (April 3 and 4) and Diana Krall (April 11), among many others. The McCallum’s ever-popular Open Call Talent Competition performances will occur April 17-19, and the College of the Desert production of Les Misérables will take the stage May 1-4. A show by the Coachella Valley Symphony will close the McCallum’s 2013-2014 season on Friday, May 9.
Peter and the Starcatcher will be performed at 8 p.m., Friday, March 28; 2 and 8 p.m., Saturday, March 29; and 2 and 7:30 p.m., Sunday, March 30, at the McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert, Tickets are $25 to $95, For tickets or more information, call 760-340-2787, or visit www.mccallumtheatre.com.