Act 1's "Peter and the Starcatcher" at DeSales University is a wildly inventive production filled with whimsical performances that provide non-stop laughs.

The play with music is based on based on the 2004 children's book "Peter and the Starcatchers" by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, which was a prequel to J.M. Barrie's "Peter Pan."

James "Bo" Sayre steals the show as the pirate Black Stache, who will one day become Captain Hook. Sayre plays the character in a hilariously over-the-top fashion,  complete with an outrageous oversized stuck-on mustache. His stentorian delivery commands the stage and he gets many of the funniest lines, which he delivers with glee.

The show relies heavily on word play for much of its humor and it ranges from sophisticated to juvenile. Puns abound and Black Stache habitually mispronounces words to humorous effect. He is ably aided by his partner in crime "Smee" played with great comedic timing by Kailey Edwards.

The plot is a bit convoluted but is basically a vehicle for the wacky hi jinks of the characters. The story has two ships heading to the same exotic island. The orphan boy who will be Peter and two other orphan boys are prisoners to be sacrificed on one ship and on the other ship famed starcatcher Lord Astor is guarding a trunk filled with magical starstuff.  However he puts his precocious daughter Molly on the first boat to safekeeping and she discovers the boys. And then the pirates show up and they all end up on an island inhabited by angry natives, mermaids and a hungry crocodile.Peter and the Starcatcher 1

Ryan Reyes plays the boy who will be Peter and gives him a nice dramatic arc as he goes from hopeless, bitter orphan to unsuspecting hero. As the young Molly, Arrianna Daniels is exasperating and inspiring. Darron Watson and Allen Marchioni are funny and quirky as Peter's fellow orphans, especially Marchioni as the food-obsessed Ted.

Andrew Scoggins portrays just the right amount of stiff upper lip as Molly's father Lord Aster.

As Molly's nanny, Mrs. Bumbrake , Renee McFillin  speaks almost entirely in alliteration and comically pursues crude sailor Alf, played with gusto by David Siy.  The pair are very funny together and have some of the baser humor, which include farts, leg hair and frilly ladies underwear.

The British Music Hall style songs add delightfully to the show, some such as the Act 1 ending "Swim On" tie into the story, while the zany Act 2 opener "Mermaid Outta Me" stands on it own. The vaudevillian song has the cast dancing as mermaids for no real purpose, but it's hilarious.

Director Matt Pfeiffer keeps all the different parts connected and brings them together for a satisfying end. However because of the rapid-fire delivery of many of the line and the  English accents used by the actors, it can be easy to miss some of the jokes.

The understated staging relies a lot  on imagination and fits the style of the show. Ropes form the corridors of the ship. Cutout waves indicate the sea and a battle between two boats is staged by the actors banging model ships together. Some inspired and quite funny sequences include a rotating fan serving as the ship's wheel, and a mop that becomes a flying cat, complete with hilarious sound effects.

The dialogue also makes sly current references to things like Starbucks and GPS.

And while actors do "fly" the technique is very low-tech and obvious, but it works on the show which intimately is a thoroughly enjoyable and rollicking romp.

"Peter and the Starcatcher," 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturdays through Dec. 10, DeSales University, Labuda Center, 2755 Station Ave., Center Valley; $29, adults; $27, students and seniors, Wednesdays and Thursdays;  $30, adults, $28, students and seniors, Friday through Sunday. 610-282-3192, desales.edu/act1.