Written and Composed by Sergei Prokofiev; Directed by Isaac Mizrahi
Part of the Guggenheim's Works & Process Series
Off Broadway, Children's Theatre
Runs through 12.11.16
Peter B. Lewis Theater at Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue
by Shani R. Friedman on 12.6.16
Daniel Pettrow and Macy Sullivan in Peter & The Wolf.
BOTTOM LINE: The legendary fashion designer returns as the narrator for the 10th anniversary of this modern take on the classic children’s story, and brings his wit, New York sensibility, and charming costumes to delight wee ones and adults.
If you’re an adult sans kids, before seeing this show you have to ask yourself, do you still possess your inner child? Barring that, how much do you love Isaac Mizrahi? If you’re an adult avec the junior set, you’re golden. My child-like innocence is sizable enough and I am a big fan of Mizrahi, but even more, as someone who has played strings and woodwinds, I really appreciated getting to hear such an impressively-sized, exceptional group of musicians accompanying the cast.
In 1936, Sergei Prokofiev received a commission from the Central Children’s Theatre in Moscow and composed Peter and the Wolf in a matter of days, created to introduce children to the sounds of an orchestra using the instruments to represent the characters. Mizrahi has given his interpretation contemporary, edgy flourishes that adults will enjoy, such as setting the action in Central Park, and poking fun at the fez-adorned Grandfather (Guillermo Resto) and his missed cues. Then after Wolf (Daniel Pettrow) has eaten Duck (Marjorie Folkman) offstage, he slinks up to the oboist (Duck’s stand-in), takes a page of sheet music off her stand, and stuffs it in his mouth. Mizrahi is no staid, stiff narrator, and joins in, interrupting the plot to go in search of Grandfather, directing Duck to the correct page in her script, and spinning Peter’s (Macy Sullivan) propeller hat.
Virtually everyone in the cast is a trained dancer and, under John Heginbotham’s animated, engaging choreography, the art form is as much celebrated as the music. Bird (Temple Kemezis), outfitted in a top with wings for sleeves and a Toronto Blue Jays cap, has the graceful movements of a ballerina, while Cat (Lindsey Jones), dressed in black with a pom pom on top, is a bit punk rock as she squabbles with Duck. Wearing white tulle for her downy bottom, Folkman gets big laughs as she slowly navigates the cold water and shakes her fist at Cat from the safety of the middle of the pond. The most acrobatic face-off is naturally between Peter and the Wolf as the feisty hero and villain share their climactic tête-à-tête. Pettrow, clad in torn jeans and furry boots, tail, and ears, is clearly having great fun as the smirking, devilish bad boy of the woods, tossing off a few howls for good measure.
Working from Prokofiev’s lovely story, Mizrahi, Heginbotham, conductor Brad Lubman, and the musicians of Ensemble Signal have put together a beautiful, lively show that makes for a wonderful addition to the holiday season.
(Peter & The Wolf plays at Peter B. Lewis Theater, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, through December 11, 2016. The running time is 30 minutes. Remaining performances are Friday December 9 at 5 and 6:30; Saturday and Sunday December 10 and 11 at 2:30 and 4:00. Tickets are $40 ($100 premium), and are available at guggenheim.org or by calling 212-423-3575.)
Peter & The Wolf is written and composed by Sergei Prokofiev. This production was created, directed and designed by Isaac Mizrahi. Choreography by John Heginbotham. Lighting Design by Michael Chybowski. Assistant Costume Design by Blair Maxwell. Conductor is Brad Lubman. Musicians are Ensemble Signal.
The cast is Derrick Arthur, Marjorie Folkman, Lindsey Jones, Temple Kemezis, Daniel Pettrow, Guillermo Resto, and Macy Sullivan.