Pop-up book sets, flying sequences and Celtic music punctuate Peter And Wendy, a bunraku puppet adaptation of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan by the Mabou Mines troupe, playing a limited engagement at Los Angeles' Geffen Playhouse, Dec. 2-28.
A hit at the 1996 International Festival Of Puppet Theatre (at the Public Theatre), Peter And Wendy then came to Off-Broadway's Victory Theatre this February. The show opens at the Geffen Dec. 4.
Like most Mabou Mines pieces, Peter & Wendy "melds movement, theatre, imagery and music into a rich theatrical tapestry." Lee Breuer (The Gospel At Colonnus) directs Liza Lorwin's adaptation of the Barrie fantasy. Julie Archer provides the sets, Johnny Cunningham the Scottish music.
Hoping to capture the moment when childhood imagination gives way to adult reality, director Breuer hopes 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, onstage puppeteers. The only human character, however, is narrator Karen Kandel, supplying all the voices -- from Wendy to Captain Hook to Peter Pan. She won an Obie for this performance and is currently in House Arrest, the new Anna Deavere Smith play in Washington DC.
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. Philip Glass, JoAnne Akalaitis, Ruth Maleczech and David Warrilow have all worked with the troupe on its two dozen productions staged throughout the world. For tickets ($17.50-$37.50) and information on Peter And Wendy at the Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Ave. In Westwood, Call (310) 280 5454.
Fans of Peter And Wendy can hear its score on the recently-released recording of songs from the show. Composed by fiddle virtuoso Johnny Cunningham, 20 Celtic songs appear on the Alula Records CD (ALU-1006).
The Peter & Wendy recording features vocal and instrumental performances by Cunningham, Susan McKeown, Seamus Egan, Jay Ansill, Larry Campbell, Jamshied Sharifi, Mick McAuley, Charlie Giordano, and Ben Wittman as well as narration by Kandel.
The CD comes boxed with a keepsake booklet that includes photographs and illustrations from the play and an introduction and narrative adaptation by playwright Lorwin.
Alula Records, which released the recording, is an independent label specializing in world music. The company's web page can be found at http://www.alula.com/
Peter & Wendy is available major record stores or via phone order at 1-800-288-2007.