Review: Narrative, spectacle balanced in Jorden Morris' 'Peter Pan'
Overactive interpretation is the bane of many contemporary theatrical settings of familiar stories, which can be lost in the process. Choreographer Jorden Morris took a more direct approach in his version of "Peter Pan," which Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre presented this weekend to open its season at the Benedum Center, Downtown.
Narrative and spectacle are well-balanced in the production Morris, a former dancer at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Canada, created in 2006. He delights in using classical ballet dancing for action and expression of feeling, supplementing it with a lot of mime. The story is faithfully told, its progress always crystal-clear.
The aerial sequences were fabulous illusions using the technology of the Flying by Foy company. The most spectacular were spinning moves, including aerial somersaults.
Morris takes his time introducing the Darling family, a sensible decision since it is the basis of the fantasy. The ballet opens with Wendy and her brothers Michael and John playing with the family dog Nana, delightfully performed by Corey Bourbonniere. The swordfight Wendy wins over Michael will be mirrored later when she bests Peter.
The Darling parents were elegantly performed Saturday evening by Nurlan Abougaliev and Ashley Wegmann, a member of the corps who made the most of her solo role. These dancers also impressive as Captain Hook and Tiger Lily in Neverland.
Another member of the corps, Caitlin Peabody, had an even bigger solo role Saturday - Tinker Bell. Peabody created a wonderfully mercurial character, and had stunning flutter steps on pointe. It won't be surprising if she moves up in the company.
Christopher Budzynski threw himself into the role of Peter, a mainly exuberant portrayal but no less persuasive in earnest moments. His dancing was, as always, very impressive athletically. His legs were breathtakingly quick.
Wendy received a winning portrayal by Alexandra Kochis, a nicely poised mix of girlishness with dawning maturity, and directness with elegance.
The performance benefited greatly from live performance of a smartly chosen score of English music. The vivacious beginning of the fugue from Benjamin Britten's "A Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" fit the energy of the Fairies as they revive Tinker Bell after she drank poisoned medicine to save Peter. Tinker Bell rose as the majestic theme by Purcell entered in the music.
Charles Barker and the Pittsburgh Ballet Orchestra gave a magnificent performance, including at some very tough, fast tempi. Solos were strong, every section of the ensemble was impressive and full ensemble sonorities were quite rich.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.