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Peter Pan 2012

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After my first trip to see the Colorado Ballet's production of Peter Pan, I was ready to, well, pan it. Fortunately, I went back to see again (and again - thank goodness for rush ticket pricing), and I've gotten a bit hooked on it. It's amazing how much I missed the first time - I was ready to write things like that they ignored the romantic feelings of Tinkerbell and Tiger Lily towards Peter, when, especially in the case of Tiger Lily, those pieces were clearly there.

OK, it's not Swan Lake or Romeo and Juliet, but the choreographer (Michael Pink) did a pretty good job of creating real ballet from a children's story. There's much more in this work than in The Nutcracker, or even Beauty and the Beast. The dances are largely ensemble numbers, with minimal solos or, ummm, what's the plural of pas de deux? What's lacking are any really memorable dances. Peter has brief romantic pas de duexs (?) with Wendy and Tiger Lily, but nothing that leaves you inventorying your Kleenex supply. More memorable is the music, with some catchy themes in a score that still qualifies as legitimate classical music.

To me, the main thing that was lacking was a sense of theme or perspective. Was this supposed to be someone's dream? At first, I thought that the take was going to be a sort of Nutcracker-like dream of a girl reaching adolescence, but that idea vanished. It hardly qualified as a battle of good vs. evil, as the pirates were portrayed as stumbling, bumbling criminal wanna-be's, and since Tinkerbell tried to kill Wendy it's hard to say that Captain Hook was a singularly evil person. Maybe the actual intent was just to tell a children's story, but with even the weeknight programs which began at 6:30 not finishing until after 9:00, it was far from the ideal length for children, and not a few families left after the second act (despite the length, there were remarkably few problems with fussy children).

The casting was a little unusual. Three of the 6 principals in the CB were relegated to very minor roles (though I was impressed by how much Maria Mosina added to the one performance I saw her in even in a minor role). The major roles (Peter Pan, Wendy, Tinkerbell, Tiger Lily, and Captain Hook/Mr. Darling) were double cast. In the 'B' cast, the nominal leading role of Wendy was played by a woman who a year ago at this time was in the studio company (though the choreography from Wendy isn't all that difficult; Tinkerbell [especially] and Tiger Lily have more difficult parts). The 'A' cast Peter Pan is perhaps the best man in the corps (certainly one of the 2 best) but the 'B' Peter Pan was played by a dancer who isn't usually in a prominent role.

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I had a great time with Peter Pan, but I'm guessing that it got a little grueling for the dancers. The CB put on 11 performances in 10 days, including 5 in the last 3 days, and there were 20 dancers who appeared in all 11 performances. Because it was mainly an ensemble program rather than a series of solos and pas de deuxs (how do you pluralize French words?), there really weren't any "small" parts other than that for Mrs. Darling. It probably got a little grueling for the orchestra as well, but they were great right to the end.

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