Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Pick of the Week - PBT's "Peter Pan" Flies into Town for 11 Performances

Cast of PBT's "Peter Pan" Photo Credit: Rich Sofranko

        In Jorden Morris’ adventurous "Peter Pan," Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre artists don’t just dance – they fly. Opening over Valentine’s Day weekend, PBT brings back this all-time audience favorite for 11 performances Feb. 12-21, at the Benedum Center.

    J.M. Barrie’s classic story comes to life through awe-inspiring flying sequences and charismatic characters, including a spunky, show-stealing Tinkerbell. Effervescent dancing animates a dreamlike realm where fairies flit through the forest, a crocodile prowls and Peter Pan leads his Lost Boys in an epic battle against the notorious Captain Hook.
    PBT gave Morris’ "Peter Pan" its Pittsburgh debut in 2011 and ranks it among its most popular story ballets. Morris, a former dancer for Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB), choreographed the ballet at the invitation of RWB Artistic Director Andre Lewis. The production received its RWB world premiere in 2006. Morris has created numerous works for RWB and choreographed for companies around the world. He last visited PBT in 2013 to stage the Pittsburgh premiere of his "Moulin Rouge® – The Ballet."

    Drawing inspiration from old movies, history books and illustrations, Costume Designer Anne Armit used the dozens of costumes to build character – giving each pirate individualized tattoos and garb, building an exotic, bejeweled crocodile and crafting unique sets of fairy wings inspired by different butterfly species.
    Reminiscent of fairy-tale illustrations, scenic designs by Don Rutley and Andrew Beck transport audiences through the starry skies of London to the tangled forests of Neverland and the decks of Hook’s Jolly Roger. In addition to Barrie’s story, the duo drew inspiration from the rich colors and fairy-tale quality of paintings by Maxfield Parrish (American, 1870-1966).

    For the original production of Morris’ "Peter Pan," Flying by Foy gave the dancers wings. The same experts have flown theater stars, including Mary Martin, the star of Jerome Robbins’ Broadway "Peter Pan," as well as celebrities like Lady Gaga, Robin Williams, Lucille Ball, Beyoncé, David Letterman, Taylor Swift and Gene Kelly. For PBT’s production, Foy will send a flying director to oversee installation of the flying equipment, conduct an "Introduction to Flying" class for PBT dancers, fit harnesses and solidify the choreography with Mr. Morris and PBT Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr.

    Morris pairs the production with a lush Edwardian score comprised of works by five English composers – Sir Benjamin Britten, Eric Coates, Sir Edward Elgar, Ron Roodwin and Montague Phillips – most of whom were creating and performing music at the time that J.M. Barrie was writing the classic novel. Of his inspiration for the ballet, Morris has said he drew from "the sense of wonder and magic that surrounds Peter and Neverland—the characters and how clear and fantastic they are – the endless possibility of imagination he (author J.M. Barrie) writes about."

    Tickets start at $28, and are available at www.pbt.org, 412-456-6666 or by visiting the Box Office at Theater Square. Groups of 10 or more can save up to 50 percent on tickets by contacting PBT’s Group Sales department at groupsales@pittsburghballet.org or 412-454-9101.

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