|Trey McIntire's choreography for performance|
by Houston Ballet (Sara Webb and Randy Herrera)
Peter Pan ballet performances have been staged for years by companies around the world, large and small, professional and amateur, and somehow I have yet to see it. If I had paid more attention, I could have gone to a performance in a nearby city in May. I'm trying not to think too much about that.
|Northern Ballet's Kenneth Tindall as Captain Hook|
So many scenes in the original play lend themselves to beautiful dance scenes, although admittedly I'd most like to see the dash and elegance of a balletic Captain Hook. (Also dancing mermaids, because the very idea is amusing.) I can accept Peter as a strapping older lad for the course of a performance.
|Cast of the performance at the Welsh National Opera, 2015|
There's also a very new Peter Pan opera, written in 2014. It's gotten mixed reviews, and the Jolly Roger does seem to have inexplicably been combined with a railroad carriage, but it's a version of the story I'd like to see for myself. "Symbolic interpretation hangs heavily over the rough-and-tumble jumble of Janacek, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Satie, Handel, Vivaldi, sea shanties and klezmer," said The Spectator, which sounds like enough reason.
Poet and novelist Lavinia Greenlaw (whose name I also know from her non-fiction The Importance of Music to Girls) went deep into the original text for her libretto. The music is by composer Richard Ayres, who is also known for writing what he calls NONcertos.
Also recent--from 2013--is the production from avant-garde director Robert Wilson, with music by Cocorosie for the Berlin Ensemble. I'm already a fan of Cocorosie, and I've heard songs from this production on their "Tales From a Grass Widow" album, so this caught my attention immediately. This highly-stylized retelling looks strange and wonderful, and entirely worth seeing.
And I must not forget Finding Neverland, even if it's not exactly a version of Peter Pan. Instead it's a theatrical adaptation of the 2004 Johnny Depp film, which tells a fictionalized version of how J.M. Barrie came to meet the Llewellyn Davies boys, who inspired his story of Peter Pan. Matthew Morrison from Glee plays Barrie, and Kelsey Grammer is American producer Charles Frohman and Captain Hook. Grammer as my beloved Captain is off-putting in so many ways, but surely by the time the musical tours, he'll have been replaced.
Yet perhaps the most unexpected performance I've found is the 1975 Neverland from Jim Steinman. You might recognize the name from his collaborations with Meatloaf, which is entirely appropriate--the adaptation was merely a workshop at the Kennedy Center in 1977, but three of its songs are on Meatloaf's best-selling Bat Out of Hell album. Steinman's version portrays a "chemically insane" young man who leads a group of lost boys in a dystopian Los Angeles, and tries to seduce a Wendy who is the daughter of Captain Hook, himself the inventor of a genetic mutation process. Resemblance to 1950s horror movies is completely intentional.
Hmm, come to think of it, that sounds like the kind of retelling I don't want to see. But I admit I'm fascinated it exists.
* J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan In and Out of Time: A Children's Classic at 100. Donna R. White and Anita C. Tarr, editors