Berkeley Repertory Theatre has turned to the New York-based Mabou Mines troupe to kick off its 1998-99 season. The acclaimed avant-garde company will perform Peter and Wendy, their adaptation of J.M. Barrie's famed novel.
Peter and Wendy played to much acclaim at New York's New Victory Theatre in February 1997. The show begins previews at Berkeley Rep, Jan. 29, for a Feb. 3 - Feb. 21, 1999 run.
Although considerably more accessible than the troupe's earlier pieces, Peter & Wendy continues Mabou's tradition of "melding movement, theatre, imagery and music into a rich theatrical tapestry." Mabou founder, Lee Breuer (The Gospel At Colonnus) directs Liza Lorwin's adaptation of the classic children's story. OBIE Award winner, Julie Archer provides the sets, with composer Johnny Cunningham providing the Celtic score.
Hoping to capture the moment when childhood imagination gives way to adult reality, director Breuer tries to represent "absolute reality from five-year old's point of view." In so doing, the Darling Nursery becomes Neverland, Wendy's bed a pirate ship and Nana a crocodile. Bunraku "shadow" puppets are held by visible, on stage puppeteers. The only human character, however, is narrator Karen Kandel, supplying all the voices -- from Wendy to Captain Hook to Peter Pan. Kandel received an OBIE for her performance at the New Victory.
Mabou Mines, founded in 1970 and named for a community in Nova Scotia, was mixing theatre with visual and multi-media long before the experimental move "performance art" established itself. Original Mabou members include minimalist composer Philip Glass, director JoAnne Akalaitis, and the actors, Ruth Maleczech and David Warrilow. Although dates have not yet been set, Mabou plans on bringing their Animal Magnetism to New York in the fall. The show tells the story of a gorilla who falls in love with a chimpanzee and features costumes by the Jim Henson Creature Shop.
Fans of Peter And Wendy can hear its score on the recording of songs from the show. Composed by fiddle virtuoso Johnny Cunningham, 20 Celtic songs appear on the Alula Records CD (ALU-1006).
For tickets ($24.50 - $35), or more information on Peter And Wendy, call The Berkeley Rep box office at (510) 845-4700.
-- By Sean McGrath