Monday, March 18, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 110



'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 Ballet

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 half-demon, half-human.

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, colorful clothing.

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

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