At last, the back story of "Peter and the Wolf."
With the well-earned blessing of Sergei Prokofiev's estate, director Anne Geenen has added a 30-minute prequel to the classic children's musical about the boy who captures a wolf and combined it with an original score (by Philip Feeney) for a sweet production currently showing at the New Victory Theater.
"Listen _ sleigh bells," calls out narrator Brian Blessed, the veteran British actor and a bearded soul in a heavy plaid coat who could pass for a lumber-cutting cousin of Santa Claus. With a shot of holiday spirit, and a bow to the 15-piece orchestra placed at audience level, Blessed relates how Peter and friends meet in a shadowy, pine-filled forest _ crimson leaves scattered on the ground _ and swear they have spotted a wolf.
"Wolves exist in a world greatly changed by people," Peter is warned, "they have never depended on man, they eat when they are hungry, sleep when they can."
"Then, I too will be a wolf," Peter decides, just as the first act ends.
Since commissioned in 1936, "Peter and the Wolf" has been a dance between instrument and character and between character and the actor's movements. So a sweet ripple of flute introduces the green-shirted Peter, played by Maurizio Montis, who steps and kicks lightly with boneless, innocent grace. The wolf _ played by Marco Chiodo and accompanied by the advance of French horns, is a perfect sourpuss with a weighted stride, bleached hair and a fixed scowl, like the front man for a New Wave band.
Supporting characters: Christian Celini as the blubbery, daffy duck, scored by an absent-minded oboe, Eva Grieco as the flighty bird (happy flute), Alessandra Cito as the self-satisfied cat (a prowling clarinet). Peter's bald, bespectacled grandfather is played by Daniel Rosseel, his face pinched as if he had spent a lifetime as a fact checker for The New Yorker. His music is provided by a fussy bassoon, the notes a proper placing of noun and verb.
"Peter and the Wolf" has a running time of 90 minutes, including intermission. The show ends Nov. 29.
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