Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ballet Philippines' Peter Pan V.5: A story (and ballet) that will never ever grow old

Peter Pan - Shadow Play
Peter Pan casts a fine shadow
Call it twist of fate or serendipity but I was reading the part of Ghost Train to the Eastern Star where Paul Theroux wrote about his surprise enjoyment of the ballet "Giselle" while in Tibilisi, Georgia, when I got an email invite to Ballet Philippines' Christmas production of Sir J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. I share some of Paul's points -- mainly, a purely layman's view of the performance (he thought the Giselle ballet was very good before a critic brought up the show's weak technical aspects, point-by-point, though that didn't take away anything from his enjoyment).  Simply put, I enjoyed BP's fifth iteration of Peter Pan very much.

Peter Pan - The Kids and the Lost Boys
The Darling children and the lost boys
Maybe, it's because of the story (well, who can't relate to the timeless story of a boy who refuses to grow up?).  Maybe, it's the surfeit of dance contests on local free and cable TV to the point of silliness and ennui that something like this classic comes as a refreshing sight for tired eyes and ears.  Maybe, it was the great turns of the the promising talents of Ballet Philippines and the timeless choreography of long-time stalwart, Edna Vida, that make the ballet enjoyable to watch and bridging the cultural barrier, make it very accessible to a mass audience mostly weaned on afternoon variety show entertainment.

Or maybe, it was the infectious audience.  I came during a matinee show when the gallery and upper boxes were filled with very young, very excitable, students who were somewhat giddy and noisy during the intermissions but were quiet yet vocally responsive during the performance.  Breathing in and sharing their youthful spirit make it easier for me to suspend (my adult) disbelief and be awed by the sight of Peter Pan flying magically across the stage and spreading pixie dust.
Peter Pan - Magic Dust II
A flying Peter spreads some pixie dust and magic on the audience
I shared in the young audience's mirth when the funky Capt. Hook, fleeing from the tick-tocking croc, sat right next to me in Row M.  A nice interactive touch, really, that got the audience all worked up and in stitches.  Kudos to the stage designer (Salvador Bernal) for the incredible moving backdrops; dramatic lighting flourishes by the lighting master (John Neil Batalla) and of course to the rigging team (Flying by FOY) for the fantastical flying scenes.

Lagalog thanks: Noel Francis Badal and Ballet Philippines for the invite.  Peter Pan was BP's Christmas presentation for its 41st season with a run last Dec. 2-12, 2010 at the CCP's Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo/Main Theater.  Watch out for BP's next presentation, Don Quixote, coming this February 2011.


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