July 31, 2014
Joey deBettencourt, who plays Peter (though his character is referred to only as “The Boy”) in the national touring production of “Peter and the Starcatcher,” grew up in Skokie, graduated from Northwestern University in 2009, and went on to perform with many Chicago companies, most notably Griffin Theatre. It was there, in 2012, that he starred in Simon Stephens’ “Punk Rock,” and left an indelible impression with his Jeff Award-winning portrayal of an English high school student who erupts in a horrible act of violence.
“My earliest childhood memories of Peter Pan was the Disney animated cartoon, which I watched on a tiny TV at home,” said deBettencourt.
The actor said his director, Roger Rees, offered him good advice.
“He told me that the role of ‘The Boy’ forms the emotional through-line of the show, and while the other characters can sing, joke and get the laughs, I have to concentrate on honest acting.”
DeBettencourt, 26, plays a 13-year-old.
“Well, he thinks he’s 13, because he’s an orphan, and he doesn’t even have a name or date of birth,” said the actor. “The other boys think he’s a troublemaker, and he can be stubborn, argumentative and self-centered. But he’s curious, and pays attention. And his behavior is all rooted in his belief that there is something better waiting for him — a home and a family — because he never had a childhood, and feels he deserves one. He’s also never met any grownups who have been good to him, so he just wants to stay a boy. Of course that has unintended consequences.”
“Like Peter, I can be stubborn and a little hot-tempered at times,” deBettencourt confessed. “But on the positive side, I’m also very curious, and am open to all kinds of experiences.”