The cherished and respected story of J. M. Barrie’s children’s classic “Peter Pan” will come to high-flying life this week in the Dixon Center as the dancers of Cleveland City Ballet take to the air.
The story has been interpreted by dozens of theater groups and dance companies and symphonies the world over. There have been numerous films about this impish character first created by J. M. Barrie, including films about Barrie himself.
The very fact that this story and these characters continue to live on gives testimony to their worth and their place in the world of children’s literature. This production on May 9, 10 and 11 will feature the five lead characters flying over the stage.
The Foy Company, known the world over for the special effects of flight, will be arriving in Cleveland and rigging the hardware that enables the dancers to “fly” in the Dixon Center on the Lee University campus. Three full stage backdrops will move the story from the nursery in London to the island of Neverland to the ship deck of the Jolly Roger, Captain Hook’s pirate ship.
Other special effects such as ground fog will be employed to enhance and enrich the story. And even though there are only five lead characters — Peter, Tinkerbell, Wendy, Michael and John and nine other supporting characters — the entire studio will be involved in the story.
The basic story has been stretched to include “The Fairies Ballet,” “The Stars Ballet” and “The Indian Ballet.” In these short “ballets,” class groups will present segments that represent the fairies making a visit to the nursery before the arrival of Tinkerbell, the stars twinkling through the night as Peter and the Darling children fly to Neverland and the Indians making their presence known on the island of Neverland.
Director Connie Gatlin said, “Everyone wanted to be a part so we created roles so that all of our students could be featured. This production not only culminates months of work and rehearsal, but considerable investment as well.”
”It’s a truly special event. Very few arts organizations can claim a 75 year tenure in any community, and we’re proud to be a part of that history. We wanted to mark it well and showcase all of these young performers in the process,” she added.
In the fall of 1936, Frances Gould began the first dance studio in Cleveland, teaching in the old Parish Hall of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Her dedication to dance inspired several young women, one of whom, Paula Duff, became the next owner of this studio. Another young woman, Carolyn Clark, opened her own studio and for decades was an instructor in our community. Upon Clark’s retirement, she merged her studio back with that of Paula Duff. Gatlin became the fourth owner of this business and renamed it the Cleveland City Ballet.
The music for this production is a combination of four different Peter Pan symphonies created by Carmen DeLeon, Jason Warbeck, Silvio Amato and Jason Woods
Performances are May 9 and 10 at 7 p.m. at the Dixon Center on the Lee campus. The third performance is Saturday at 10 a.m. Tickets are available this week at the Cleveland City Ballet Studios in the Old Woolen Mill. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the theater. Gatlin encourages everyone to get their tickets early because they are selling quickly.
Leads performing in this production are Jaida McKeel as Peter Pan; Laurel McGaha as Wendy Darling; Emory McKeel as Tinkerbell; Elliott Brock as Michael Darling and Lee Webb as John Darling. Supporting cast includes Morgan Ainsworth as Captain Hook; Elizabeth Shelton as Tiger Lily; Abby Brown as The Shadow; Chloe Jenkins as Neverbird; Breanna Melton as Smee; Stella Buckner as Blackamoor; Kevin Roberts as Mr. Darling; Hannah Horowitz as Mrs. Darling and Chelsey Kimsey as Nana.
Understudies are Michael: Sarah Anderson; John: Sydney Gobble; Wendy: Chloe Jenkins; Tinkerbell: Kyndall Hutson; Tiger Lily: Avianna Duerr; Neverbird: Anna Thompson; and Shadow: Breanna Melton.
Dancers performing in various roles are Maggie Arrowood, Hailee Barnett, Reese Creekmore, Emma Fannon, Amelia DeBord, Eve Goforth, Kaley Brown, Jenna Edgeworth, Avri Lowe, Allie Owenby, Ryann Presswood, Sadie Wielfaert, Taylor Killingsworth, Caroline Buol, Lynlee Hodge, Kaitilyn Rogers, Amelia Ohlsson, Audralyn Baggett, Kaitlyn Hewitt, Abigail Kitterman, James Arrowood, Emily Chavis, Madison Creekmore, Dawson Durrett, Maizie Gillespie, Chelsey Goodwin, Lily Bradney, McKennah Pritchard, Miah Pritchard, Ashley Kitterman, Sloan Trewhitt, Charissa Tucker, Chloe Creekmore, Kennadee Womack, Madison Creekmore, Victoria Majeske, Cheyenne Donohoo, Autumn Fryar, Jennah Pritchard, Annalyse Baggett, Emily Chavis, Hollie Delk, Annabelle Pelley, Dara Burton, Breanna DeVane, Evie Tolley and Chelsey Goodwin.
Other dancers in the ballet are Mary Evelyn Beasley, Sophie Ellis, Kate Matson, Ava Robbins, Sydney Schaefer, Lucy Crick, Chloe Ryeson, Abby Winters, Ellen Adams, Addie Beth Cord, Dixie Crisp, Katelyn Gallaher, Elizabeth Gunter, Mallory Matson, Madeline McNeal, Lenore Sanders, Selah Tucker, Cara Campbell, Roxy Gibson, Emma Claire Smith, Skylar Stiles, Madison Jackson, Sophie Barker, Addison Stevenson, Addison Brock, Bella Hicks, Paige Moody, Cecily Pogue, David Cantrell, Megan Hood, Liz Hooker, Ella Nunn, Joyce Chen, Shelby Keller, Emma Miles, Sophie Phillips, Madison Van Hook, Elena Burton, Madison Collins, Tiffany Croft, Leah Hitchcock, Oliva Lawson, Elizabeth Myers, Gabrielle Thompson, Ellie Waters, Matthew Arrington, Laney Copeland, Madison Jackson, Reagan McKinley, Anna Pritchard, Sarah Pritchard, Addie Thompson, Allie Oliver, Elsa Thompson, Madison Van Hook, Ellie Waters, Major Waters, Lydia Campbell, Sydney Gobble, Phoebe Han, Destiny Shreve, Jessica Bausch, Nikki Lewis, Sarah Redmond, Morgan Ainsworth, Abby Brown, Addison Brock, Gracie Anderson, Kennedy Smith, Liz Hooker, Keri Parks, Lily Beth Starks, Emma Thompson, Olivia Lawson, Laney Brown, Elena Burton and Shelby Keller.