'Peter Pan' uses tights
for debut on ballet stage
By Kristin Buchanan
Daily Cougar Staff
Even after 100 years, Peter Pan still manages
to stay in perpetual childhood. The rest of us should be so lucky.
Photo Jim Caldwell/Houston
Sara Webb stars as Wendy
in the Houston Ballet's world-premiere performance of Peter Pan.
The Houston Ballet unleashed the world
premiere of Peter Pan on Thursday. The show was choreographed by Trey McIntyre.
Unlike Disney's candy-coated animated version,
McIntyre explores a slightly darker side of Peter Pan's story.
The Houston Ballet's production, based
on the novel by J.M. Barrie, explains the origins of the perpetually youthful
Peter Pan. It also gives Captain
Hook's story on how his "hook" — which
is a grossly atrophied finger rather than a piece of metal — came to be.
Perhaps the most distinguishable difference
between McIntyre's rendering of Peter Pan and previous conceptualizations
is its main character's wild
red hair. This fabulously outlandish hair
maintains its shape throughout principal dancer Mauricio Cañete's
flips, turns and aerial somersaults.
Cañete gave a stunning performance
years ago as Renfield in the Houston Ballet production of Dracula with
his acrobatic stunts, virtually stealing the
show. In Peter Pan, he performs even more
feats of athleticism, only this time he completely defies gravity.
Peter Pan is created from the imaginative
perspective of a child with larger-than-life scenery. The "children" are
dwarfed by oversized props and the
costumes worn by their nursemaids. The
nursemaids look like members of the Biblical Anakim race, giants who were
The production also shows a stark contrast
between adults and children through the characters of Mr. and Mrs. Darling,
who wear black costumes and
don masks with stern expressions, resembling
those of ancient Greek tragedies. The rest of the cast, including children,
fairies and swashbuckling
pirates, are bare-faced and wear bright,
Timothy O'Keefe's portrayal of the villain
is simply delightful. Keefe, who played the lead in Dracula, certainly
has a knack for evil roles. His facial
expressions and acting ability are terrifically
appropriate for the character.
Peter Pan ends when Wendy, who is too old
to fly with Peter anymore, has a family of her own. Her transformation
into adulthood includes black attire
and a stern mask as a slightly disturbing
reminder that those of us who don't reside in Never-Never Land will eventually
have to let go of childhood
and grow up.
Houston Ballet's Peter Pan
**** 1/2 (out of five stars)
Choreography: Trey McIntyre
Wortham Theatre Center
550 Prairie Street