BWW Reviews: Houston Ballet's PETER PAN is a Whimsical Good Time
The Houston Ballet is known for its elaborate and beautiful productions. Every ticket purchased guarantees a performance filled with masterful dancing, brilliant choreography, remarkable sets, and music. Houston Ballet's much anticipated production of PETER PAN is no exception and nothing short of fantastic. Although many of us are familiar with the tale and have possibly seen it on film or stage, Houston Ballet makes it their own with whimsical choreography by Trey McIntyre and a Dance Company that keeps the audience on The Edge of their seats with every move. Set to the magical score by Sir Edward Elgar, arranged by Niel DePonte, PETER PAN draws the audience into the journey of Peter Pan and the Darling children as it creates a visual adventure that is ideal for both the young and the young at heart.
Houston Ballet's PETER PAN tells the familiar tale of the boy who refused to grow up; however, sprinkled in is a handful of unexpected plot devices and twists that ensures that any viewer will feel as if they are seeing this story unfold for the first time. This is not a Peter Pan that you have seen before! The production revolves around the Darling children: Wendy, John, and Michael who are awoken one night to a mysterious boy in their room and a fairy named Tinkerbell. They fly away with Peter Pan to the fantastical Neverland where they never have to grow up. There, adventure ensues as they meet the Lost Boys, see the likes of mermaids, and battle the villainous Captain Hook and his band of pirates.
Joseph Walsh creates a multidimensional Peter Pan that resonates with fun and frivolity as well as heroic bravery. When Jospeh Walsh's Peter Pan first appears, his dancing is exuberant and youthful. As he moves about the Darlings' bedroom, he appears almost primitive and expertly performs to show a range of curiosity and playfulness. One of his most impressive moments was during the flying sequence. Although flying was expected of the character, Joseph Walsh's Peter Pan dazzled audience members as he twisted and flipped throughout the air in a seemingly effortless manner. In the second act, he successfully demonstrates an even greater range of character as he expertly dances among the Lost Boys, proving to be both their peer and their leader. Joseph Walsh commits to a character that is a fearless as he battles Captain Hook to save a stolen mermaid. As he dances with Wendy, he successfully portrays a character that is genuinely caring but childlike and temperamental. In the third act, Joseph Walsh as Peter Pan steals the show in his final battle with Captain Hook, where he simultaneously brings a smile to every audience members' face and keeps them on The Edge of their seat. His talent as a dancer and impressive control of his body is made apparent through his quick, controlled, and sweeping motions. Joseph Walsh superiorly executes the character arc of Peter Pan, showcasing both his skill as a first class dancer and actor.
Sara Webb's portrayal of Wendy Darling was masterfully beautiful and at times so elegant that audience members were left breathless. Sara Webb's Wendy successfully introduces the audience to a girl who is on the verge of growing up. Her dancing is dreamlike, light, and airy, flooding the stage with her youthfulness. As she transitions between home, Neverland, and home again her dancing matures with her character as she supremely executes sweeping movements with pristine grace and poise. Sara Webb's Wendy captivates the viewer at the beginning of the production as she dances, twirls, and moves gloriously between The Shadows in her dream. Her duet with Peter in Act II highlights her elegance as she is juxtaposed with a moody Peter Pan. Her most memorable choreography derives from her final scenes after returning home. Sara Webb's Wendy dances like a girl who has truly been transformed. Her movements are agile and graceful. Her dancing is bittersweet as she refuses Peter Pan's request to return to Neverland, and she impresses viewers with her striking execution of the choreography.