Ever feel an itch to find your inner child? This weekend you can. Just follow your shadow to the Covey Center for the Arts where Utah Regional Ballet is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a premiere production of "Peter Pan," the whimsical story of the boy who wouldn't grow up.
The ballet, which shows at the Covey Center on Friday and Saturday, is an original work with choreography by Jacqueline Colledge, artistic director for Utah Regional Ballet (URB). Colledge has created many full-length ballets for the company and has received numerous awards for her choreography. Her current ballet is based off author and playwright James M. Barrie's play "Peter Pan," the fanciful tale of childhood which took the stage by storm in 1904 and has been adapted into many stage and film versions since.
"There's so much in the book," Colledge said of Barrie's work. "Pulling out the most interesting parts that would be true to the story and then telling it in dance with no words has been a challenge, but it's really been enjoyable."
To ensure authenticity and that the characters were being accurately portrayed, Colledge worked in collaboration with Cortney Mansanarez, a Utah Valley University creative writing major, who served as the literary advisor on the production. She also tested the ballet, which is complete with flying dancers, a crocodile and lots of magical goings on, on audiences -- many of which were children -- to gauge their reaction.
"I've used them as a barometer to help me as I've been choreographing it, and they love it," Colledge said of her pint-sized test cases who've already seen URB's "Peter Pan." "They're just having a ball with it."
The ballet includes 48 children dancers as well as principal guest artist, Alexander MacFarlan, playing Peter Pan; URB principal dancer, Rachelle Jardine, as Wendy; and Christopher Young, another guest artist who will fill the role of Captain Hook.
"It's been a lot of fun," said Young of his portrayal of the baleful pirate Captain Hook. "He's a character that you can do many things with: He can be scary at times and cynical, and then he can be pretty comical, too. It's challenging in that you have to look scary without speaking. You have to use a lot of facial expressions and body movements and carry yourself in a certain way. "
URB's "Peter Pan" will be carried by an original music score by Italian composer Silvio Amato, who has composed music for television, motion pictures, ballets and ice shows. Amato will come from Italy to attend the premiere.
"That's the highlight of this whole production for me, was just being able to use his beautiful music," Colledge said. "We're thrilled to have him attend and celebrate our 30th anniversary with us."
So grab your kids, hang onto your shadow and set your sights for Neverland. "Peter Pan" will bring out the inner child in everyone, Colledge said. "It's a fun family show. I think it will be a joy for audiences of all ages."