archive
links
essays

Peter Pan

Kevin Gaëll Thomas and Artists of the Colorado Ballet
Kevin Gaäl Thomas and Artists of the Colorado Ballet
Photo: Mike Watson
 
Our eyes still light up at the mention of Peter Pan, after all, he was the one who taught us we could fly if we just believed! Amazingly, after all these years, the boy who wouldn't grow up still hasn't grown up—thank goodness!

With Native Americans, pirates, a crocodile, a fairy, and best of all, flying children with secret hiding places away from persnickety adults, the Colorado Ballet's story of Peter Pan captures just about every kid's perfect fantasy.

As Peter, our favorite magical boy, Kevin Gaël Thomas (with seamless flying effects by ZFX, Inc.'s Shad Ramsey, Flying Director, and cues by Francisco Estavez, who plays the role in other performances) stealthily pulls off Peter's trademark fly-in through the window, his alighting atop the fireplace, and all the usual heroic maneuvers that help our boy-wonder confound Captain Hook and his nasty band. When Peter teaches Wendy and the boys to fly like him, even the most hardened, adulterated grown-up experiences a stirring of hope that the dream of flight is just a matter of finding the right teacher.

Kevin Gaël Thomas as Peter Pan<br>and Morgan Buchanan as Wendy Darling
Kevin Gaël Thomas as Peter Pan
and Morgan Buchanan as Wendy Darling
Photo: Mike Watson
 
Whether in the air or on the stage, Thomas' dancing embodies Peter's exuberance and playfulness. Wendy is completely captivated by Peter, yet brings the levity of maturing girl who takes responsibility for her brothers and the Lost Boys, as we see in Morgan Buchanan's delightful performance.

Leah McFadden as Tinkerbell
Leah McFadden as Tinkerbell
Photo: Mike Watson
 
This version of the story, from director choreographer Michael Pink and composer Philip Feeney (who previously collaborated to create the ever-popular Dracula), had its world premiere in 2010 at the Milwaukee Ballet (from whom this production appears as a courtesy), is full of wonder, beginning with the seamless integration of the dance and flying elements. Picture a flurry of lights percolating around the children's quarters of the Darling house and then—poof!—Tinkerbell (Leah McFadden) suddenly appears out of nowhere.

Peter appeals to the audience to save Tinkerbell.
Peter appeals to the audience to save Tinkerbell,
who has swallowed poison to protect him.
The entire auditorium is filled with light
from audience's magic wands!
Photo: Mike Watson
 
The adaptation of any story (Peter Pan was a stage play before it was a book) into a ballet is always a test of the clarity of the emotional through line, and J.M Barrie's masterpiece passes with flying (double-entendre intended) colors. The rewarding moments follow one after the other: the magical entrance of Tink and Peter; the delight when the Darling children (Morgan Buchanan, Sean Omandam, and Arianna Ciccareli) stay airborne; the dogged loyalty of Nana (Robbie Downey); the impressive journey to Neverland, over St. Paul's Cathedral and Big Ben; the Captain Jack Sparrow-like self-possession of Captain Hook (Christophor Moulton); the exotic artistry of Tiger Lily (Asuka Sasaki) and her braves (my favorite costumes, by Judanna Lynn); the scary yet fun crocodile who emerges from the orchestra pit; and the fabulous sets (Rick Graham), particulary the tripartite pirate ship, which is arranged in multiple combinations, each revealing different cutaways of the hull, hold, quarters, and decks.

Peter, Tiger Lily and her braves, and the Lost Boys celebrate Captain Hook's demise!
Peter, Tiger Lily and her braves, and the Lost Boys
celebrate Captain Hook's demise!
Photo: Mike Watson
 
Adam Flatt and the ballet orchestra bring forth the full range of emotional color in Philip Feeney's score, the shadings of which are echoed in David Grill's lighting palette, adapted by Patrick "Red" Howard.

The Colorado Ballet's presentation of Peter Pan, adapted from the 1902 story by J.M. Barrie, runs through February 9th. For tickets: coloradoballet.org/performances/peter-pan.

Bob Bows



  Current Reviews | Home | Webmaster



If you enjoy our work, please Like our website.