BWW Review: BalletMet Shoots for the Stars in Fast-Flying Fantasy PETER PAN
Who says grown-ups can't play make-believe?
BalletMet's Columbus premiere of Michael Pink's "Peter Pan" shows that adventure has no age limit -- all you need is a little faith, trust, and, of course, pixie dust.
The ballet's plot is based on the tales of Scottish writer J.M. Barrie, whose imagination gave life to the youthful residents of Neverland. Fans of the 1953 animated Disney movie will also delight in the on-stage portrayals of favorite characters such as Wendy (Carly Wheaton), John (Michael Sayre) and Michael (Jessica Brown) Darling, Tiger Lily (Adrienne Benz) and Nana the dog (Darian Kane).
Opening the curtain to reveal the fog-filled streets of London, the first act immediately succeeds in capturing the audience's attention with aerial wire work that is smartly and smoothly integrated into the on-stage acting.
Dancing the role of the ballet's eponymous hero, Miguel Anaya swoops down to earth sporting a sly smile as he mystifies the Darling children with acts of mischievous magic. His acrobatic energy sends him somersaulting through the air and across the stage, while his cheeky antics stem from the vivacious spirit of a boy who refuses to grow up.
After an angry exchange with their parents (Lisset Santander and David Ward) that results in Nana being banished from the house, Wendy, John and Michael decide to join Peter Pan and his sassy sprite, Tinkerbell (Caitlin Valentine-Ellis), in Neverland. As the dancers lift off into the air, scenic designer Rick Graham's silhouetted skyline of London lowers to the floor, creating the ingenious illusion of high-altitude flight that sweeps the audience off its feet.
Philip Feeney's original score complements the on-stage action with cinematic sound. Pizzicato passages accent Tinkerbell's pixieish fluttering and dramatic orchestral swells accompany the Darlings and Peter Pan as they soar through the air toward the second star to the right.
The ballet's final two acts slow a bit in pacing while the other inhabitants of Neverland are introduced. David Ward trades in George Darling's evening attire for a the plumed hat of a pirate when he returns to the stage as Captain Hook, the story's malevolent and mustachioed antagonist.
Much of the remainder of the ballet shows Hook and his band of pirates wield cutlasses and sabres as they clash with a clan of fierce female warriors led by Tiger Lily, but the story comes full-circle when Wendy and her brothers are taken hostage on the high seas and are rescued by Peter Pan.
Missing home, the Darlings convince Peter and Tinkerbell to accompany them back to the mortal realm. There, they are reunited with Mr. and Mrs. Darling and Nana, whose gentle demeanor and protective canine sensibilities easily make her a crowd favorite every time she pads out onto the stage.
As the Darling children embrace their family in the comfort of their home, Peter ascends above the rooftops once more and, with a smirk and a wink, assures the crowd that you're never too old to believe in a bit of magic.
"Peter Pan" will be performed at the Ohio Theatre from Feb. 10 through Feb. 12.
The performance is in three acts with two 20-minute intermissions.
Ticket information and showtimes can be found on the BalletMet website.
The Ohio Theatre is located at 39 E. State St.