Milwaukee Ballet’s Magical ‘Peter Pan’
break-apart set and David Grill’s chiaroscuro lighting worked together to
breathtaking effect. A stroll in staid Kensington
Gardens in 1941 ended with London blackening at the
sound of air raid sirens. This dissolved into the pretty nursery of a bourgeois
household, then gave way to night and clouds as Peter and the children flew
past St. Paul’s and Big Ben toward the glowing star, and on to the spooky,
biomorphic, fantastically twisted world of Neverland with its pirate ship,
watery lagoon and underclass, underground hide-out. The slow, horizontal
movement of scenery stood in counterpoint to the aerial swoops of the flying
dancers. Judanna Lynn’s costumes were brilliant in color and character detail,
and should be displayed in a museum rather than left in storage till this show
is revived, as it surely will be. It could easily alternate with The Nutcracker as Milwaukee Ballet’s
annual family holiday event.
Marc Petrocci is a
Pan for the ages. I saw the show twice to catch both casts, and was surprised
and pleased to see him dance again, with even greater abandon, on the second
night. Clearly, this role belongs to him. Likewise, I can’t imagine a more
entertaining or dazzling Tinkerbell than Luz San Miguel. As John and Michael,
Petr Zahradnicek and Nicole Teague were utterly endearing. Better to attend
twice than have to choose between the superb performers cast as Hook, Wendy,
Tiger Lily and Mrs. Darling. Some of the most touching moments belonged to
Elizabeth Glander in her vivid pantomime as the dog Nana.
It’s all Michael Pink’s doing, a five-year labor. Like J.M. Barrie, whose 1904 play is the model, he’s brought a dense, weird, prepubescent world to delirious life. The air raid sirens and loud ticking of the devouring clock inside both crocodile and nursery speak of knowledge to come, but the bulk of this action-adventure fantasy holds adulthood defiantly at bay. The loneliness of Pan’s eternal childhood and the inevitable end of innocence for the others are only evident upon reflection.