Peter Pan

Playhouse (Queensland Ballet)

 

All children, except one, grow up

–  J. M. Barrie,  Peter Pan (1904)

This ballet is a celebration of childlike wonder. We are transported from the dark, menacing nursemaids of a children’s nursery to the boundless adventures of Neverland with its derring-do and magic.

Our infant hero Peter is growing up with his sister Wendy (Yanela Pinera) and his brothers John (Rian Thompson) and Michael (Teri Crilly), assisted by Fairies who visit their nursery and make them feel safe. The giant nursemaids take  the children  for a promenade when, alas, Peter falls from his stroller and is swept away with the garbage, it seems forever. Teri Crilly dances the role of Michael with brilliant, innocent exuberance.

Some years later Wendy (Yanela Pinera) is woken from a frightening dream by a bright light. A wild boy with a shock of red hair appears and introduces himself as Peter Pan (performed with vigour by Camilo Ramos). And so the mischief begins.

Yanela Pinera dances the demanding role of Wendy exquisitely. Her pas de deux with Peter in Act 2 to the music of English composer  Sir Edward Elgar is a case study in kinetic art.

Elgar’s music is perhaps a surprising choice for a ballet of perpetual childhood. Hardly the stuff of Elgar’s famous Pomp and Circumstance March.  Yet his lesser-known music provides an apt vehicle for this gambol from the mysterious to the swashbuckling.

The dance of the Mermaids in Act 2 is especially touching. The Queensland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nigel Gaynor plays beautifully, whether at moments of poignancy or in hectic scenes of grand combat, as between the Lost Boys and Captain Hook (danced with suitable villainy by Vito Bernasconi).  

 
Such a theatrical ballet requires clever stagecraft. Peter Pan and Wendy zoom high above the stage with breathtaking acrobatics. The laws of gravity are somehow repealed in this enchanted Neverland.
 
The lighting designer Christina R Giannelli gives us a spectacular display of visual effects, including the spooky shadows of dancers silhouetted from behind the stage onto a translucent curtain. A spotlit Yanela Pinera shows sublime virtuosity in a dancing synergy with the shadow figures beyond the veil.
 

The Queensland Ballet takes us beyond melancholy reality to the world of imagination through what William Wordsworth called ‘a willing suspension of disbelief’. This production joyfully  illustrates what J M Barrie wrote in Peter Pan:

 All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.

 

 
Choreographer: Trey MCIntyre
 
Music: Sir Edward Elgar
 
Arranged by: Neil DePonte
 
Conductor: Nigel Gaynor
 
Music performed by: Queensland Symphony Orchestra
 
Set designer: Thomas Boyd
 
Costume designer: Jeanne Button
 
Lighting designer: Christina R Giannelli
 
Lighting recreated by: Cameron Goerg
 
Performances: 25 October to 5 November 2017
 
Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes with two 20 minute intervals.

— Matt Foley
(Performance seen: Tue 31st October 2017)

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