The Colorado Ballet delivered a delightful flight of fancy, Friday evening, January 31, 2020 at the season’s debut production of Michael Pink’s interpretation of Peter Pan.
The scene opens in the Darling’s Home with the children Wendy, John, and Michael (performed respectively by Morgan Buchanan, Sean Omandam, and Arianna Ciccarelli) wildly playing nursery games with one another while under the supervision of the beloved family dog, Nana (played by Robbie Downey) while Peter Pan (performed by Kevin Gael Thomas) looks on from just beyond the nursery window. The merriment interrupted by the elegant movements of Mrs. Darling (performed by Chandra Kuykendall) when she comes in to put the children to bed.
After the Darling children go to sleep, Wendy’s dream sequence is queued as Tinkerbell (performed by Leah McFadden) sneaks into the nursery with Peter in close pursuit. Thomas and McFadden skillfully play a game of ballet cat-and-mouse dancing nearly silent, across the stage, and yet Wendy awakens to witness them just before Mary Darling and Nana burst in and chase the scoundrel Pan away.
In the next sequence, the audience is introduced to Mr. Darling, performed by Christophor Moulton who also stars as Captain Hook. Mrs. Darling struggles to get the children to take their medicine before bed. Mr. Darling expertly executes the roll of trickster to help Mrs. Darling succeed in her mission, pretending to also take the medicine to convince the children. Moulton transitions easily into the stern father figure matching his movements to his characters moods, from silly, old, dad to disciplinarian.
Having completed their bedtime routine the children drift to sleep. We discover next that perhaps Wendy’s dream of Peter Pan from the previous evening was no dream at all. Pan sweeps back onto stage in desperate search of his shadow, which he presumably lost on his last visit to the nursery while in pursuit of Tinkerbell.
Thomas tumbles gracefully around the room as he wrestles to recapture his slightly faster, slippery shadow. Wendy (Buchanan) is awakened by the commotion and to the realization that her dream was in fact real. Together, Wendy and Peter capture and reattach his shadow with needle and thread. Peter is overjoyed and he and his recently reunited, willful shadow (performed by Simon Zinabou-Costello) leap and twirl in perfectly-choreographed mirrored-movements around the stage. An inspiring testament to the talents of the Colorado Ballet’s artistic team.
As the favored fairy tale goes, Wendy wakes her brothers at the same time Tinkerbell again enters the scene, to see Peter and Tink flying about the nursery. Peter with the reluctant help of the fiery fairy, teaches the Darling children to fly and they head off to a fantastical adventure in Never Neverland.
The fanciful flight from the Darling’s home in London to Neverland puts a spotlight on the incredible artistry of the production. Thanks to the direction of Gil Boggs with the assistance of Sandra Brown, Lorita Travaglia, and Maria Mosina the resulting creative vision is magnificent. It brings the audience along as Pan and the Darling children soar through the London skyline whirring past spires and rooftops. The stage is cleverly concealed with fog, and a cloud screen completes the illusion.
At last, we arrive in Neverland immediately greeted by Captain Hook (Moulton) and his motley crew of pirates. All are in pursuit of Tiger Lily (performed by Asuka Sasaki) and her fellow Indian Braves. Moulton manages to instill fear as the pirate captain, while yet displaying cowardice. A series of beautifully syncopated dance sequences unfold between the pirates and the powerful and courageous Braves, until the tell-tale tick-tocking that signals the approach of Hook’s mortal enemy; the crocodile who claimed the hand, that used to stand in place of the pirate captain’s infamous namesake hook.
Inline with the muse fairytale, the audience next meets Peter Pan’s rag-tag band of friends affectionately called the Lost Boys. Tinkerbell immediately steals the show with her excitable and exaggerated movements. She marches sprite-fully back and forth, and spiritedly spins a tall tale to prod the Lost Boys into firing arrows into the sky. The same sky that the Darling children, and Wendy in particular, are descending from. McFadden (Tinkerbell) has a stage presence that is tiny and playful, because she is a fairy after all, and yet simultaneously mighty and commanding with just the right amount of comedy.
The remainder of the performance takes the audience through the high jinks that story enthusiasts old and young have come to know and love about the Neverland Gang. The fiction come-to-life is gifted with a score composed by the esteemed Phillip Feeney, conducted by the adored Adam Flatt, and performed by the masterful Colorado Ballet Orchestra. A truly magical experience is delivered by the musical prowess adeptly engaged throughout the production.
This is a lovely interpretation of Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. Whether young or young at heart, this fictional manifestation has thrills to offer all and just might have you believing in magic.
The show is a limited engagement and only runs through next weekend. Tickets are available for the remaining shows from Friday, Feb 7 to Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. For more information or to snag your tickets before they sell out, visit: COLORADOBALLET.ORG.