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Boy and Beast

Theater Review

Sep. 11, 2008
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   Milwaukee Ballet, Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra and First Stage Children's Theater have teamed up for an adaptation of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf that uses dance, music and narration in English, Spanish and sign language to convey the battle of wills between boy and beast. The result of this ambitious endeavor is a sweet production that benefits from being short (35 minutes). If allowed to run on much longer it might stand the risk of overwhelming the audience with an excess of visual and aural treats.

  As it stands, there's plenty to like here. The dancers are limber and expressive, particularly the Cat (Martha Leuthner) and the Wolf (Laura Nasci). Flutist Sarah Gierach offers a beautifully tremulous accompaniment to the Bird (Marie Jeruc) and clarinetist Bria Kaufman conveys the sinewy stealth of the Cat.

  One criticism is that the undertaking is too elaborate for the allotted space. There may be something to be said for the informality the setting prompts, allowing younger audience members and their parents to form a cross-legged arc on the ground, but the movements of the dancers may be less constrained if they didn't have to carefully pick their way around a host of lake nymphs and narrators. That aside, Peter and the Wolf offers a heartening display of the city's young talent.

  Playing at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center (325 W. Walnut St.)through Sept. 14.


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