Ballet celebrates 40 years with sequel to Peter Pan
Dec 01, 2012 (Menafn - Kilgore News Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --What happened after Peter Pan defeated Captain Hook?
Longview Ballet Theatre is poised to answer that question next weekend with their 40th anniversary production of 'Peter Pan 2 -- Hook Returns!'
Featuring professional dancers with high-flying credentials as well as local talent and dance students (four from Kilgore), the 50 cast members will fill roles in an original work by LBT Associate Artistic Director Amanda Edge, who tailored the choreography specifically for the Longview ballet's stage and crafted the plot from the litany of fiction following the adventures of 'the boy who never grew up' in E.M. Barry's original story.
It was a natural choice, LBT Executive Director Toni Erskine said, to follow up the company's success in last year's production of the original story with a new sequel set in Never Never Land.
"At the end of Peter Pan, of course Hook has to walk the plank and the crocodile is there -- we believe Hook has been eaten by that crocodile," Erskine explained. But the nefarious pirate stole some of Tinkerbell's pixie dust and flew away. "He did not die, and he's been biding his time all these years to get his revenge on Peter Pan."
The mischievous Peter, meanwhile, has had no one to play with since the Lost Boys decided to grow up, so he's befriended Moira, the granddaughter of his former sweetheart, Wendy.
"At some point he just stopped coming to visit, and Moira got concerned and went to look for him," Erskine said. "There ensues a capture and an epic battle."
Edge, herself, is a former student of Longview ballet who has since appeared on Broadway in the 'Phantom of the Opera' in addition to 15 years performing with the New York City Ballet. Daniel Ulbricht, playing Peter once again, is a frequent performer on the LBT stage and a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet. Stephen Tewksbury, playing Hook, is another Broadway veteran, including a turn as the Phantom and roles in 'Les Miserables,' 'Miss Saigon' and other shows.
Beyond the big names, one of the biggest crowd-pleasers from the previous showing -- flying -- returns once again to the stage of the S.E. Belcher, Jr. Chapel and Performance Center on the LeTourneau University campus Dec. 7-9.
"Last year we brought the first flying to the Belcher Center," Erskine said. "Peter Pan and Moira will fly again this year -- there will be more tricks and flying and bells and whistles."
Including the debut of 14 of the company's youngest dancers, the 2012 production includes appearances by Kilgore's Colby Johnston dancing Tinkerbell and Abby Laura Hattaway, Aubree McCann and Carter Williams as Never fairies.
Johnson, a Kilgore High School senior, has been dancing "for as long as I can remember" and is eager to fill Tink's wings again.
"What was so hard for me last year was I had to do a lot of acting because she was so pouty when it came to Wendy," Johnston said. "By the time the show came around, I really got into character and enjoyed playing that part.
"I think it's really, really exciting. Last year, the audience fell in love with the flying and pirates and mermaids. It's really fun to watch and to become a part of."
Johnston is also gratified to be in the company's 40th anniversary production, honoring the efforts of her teacher, LBT founder and artistic director Pat George Mitchell.
"It's just really inspiring to be a part of something that she worked so hard to build," she said. "And it's grown so much."
According to Erskine, Mitchell has worked tirelessly since 1972 to make the local company a success, visible in the 130 dancers who have reached the company level and in the ongoing careers of alumni like Edge.
"My 40 years with Longview Ballet Theatre have been much like this production," Mitchell said, "exciting, suspenseful, joyful and challenging."
"Last year, 7,000 people saw 'Peter Pan.' I cannot think of a better way to celebrate 40 years than to fill those seats with audiences eager to see what Peter Pan and Captain Hook do next."
'Peter Pan 2' is more than just a ballet, Erskine said, it's a multi-art production that celebrates four decades of the company's efforts to bring the art of dance to East Texas.
"Rather than kind of a retrospective production, (Mitchell) really wanted to bring joy back to the stage again this year because that really defines what her legacy is -- her joy she finds in dance, in nurturing dancers, in creating a company of the caliber our company is, that rivals much larger companies in much larger cities. That's been a standard of excellence that has really marked her history with LBT," Erskine said. "What more of a story can we tell of Peter Pan and reflect that joy that comes from being a part of Longview Ballet Theatre and the skills that are part of Longview Ballet Theatre?"
Showtimes for 'Peter Pan 2 -- Hook Returns!' are 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7, 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 Dec. 8 and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 9. Tickets are 13, 23, 28 or 48, available at the Belcher Center box office (2100 South Mobberly in Longview), online at belchercenter.com or by phone at 903-233-3080.
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