Peter & The Wolf – Isaac Mizrahi’s Fresh Take on a Classic Piece: Show Review by Antonia Kasper


Isaac Mizrahi

What do Sergei Prokofiev and Isaac Mizrahi have in common?  Both are credited with the recent 30-minute  production of Peter and the Wolf at the Peter B. Lewis Theater, part of the Guggenheim Works & Process Series.

Sergei Prokofiev’s (Composer) 1936 classic lighthearted piece, which introduced the instruments and sounds of the orchestra for children, was just directed by Isaac Mizrahi in early December.  Mizrahi gave the audience a special treat by also narrating the piece.

My daughter (9) and I followed the spiraled sidewalk below ground level of the Guggenheim and into the intimate Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Peter B. Lewis Theater.  There we entered into an ethereal atmosphere of musical fable and theatrical whimsy.

Mizrahi introduced each character in the story that is represented by an instrument.  Peter-strings: Duck – oboe: Hunter- timpani: Bird –flute: Grandfather-bassoon: Cat-clarinet and Wolf-French horn.  With Brad Lubman leading the way as the conductor.  This simple tale tells how Peter, against his grandfather’s will, ventures into a meadow and captures the wolf with the help of a bird, freeing the city of intimidation, while letting the hunter take the wolf to the zoo.

Peter’s (Macy Sullivan’s) boyish playful skips and poises coupled with Bird’s (Elizabeth Coker’s) airy, graceful ballet routine take flight with choreography by John Heginbotham. Funny, awkward duck, (Marjorie Folkman) fits “the bill” perfectly with some humorous back stroke swimming while Kristen Foote’s Cat is sly and sexy.

The lovely scene and lighting design (Michael Chybowski) was simple and effective with a large tree and long branches center stage, home of the bird, cat and Peter’s hiding place.  The orchestra pit was perfect, representing the duck’s swimming hole, and the fenced backdrop gave us a visual sense of the border dividing Peter’s safe ground from Wolf’s (Daniel Pettrow) dangerous territory.  Grandfather (Gus Solomons, Jr.) was comic relief, always entering at the wrong times and the Hunter’s (Derrick Arthur’s) clumsy erratic rifle carrying “shtick” was fun.

This timeless children’s piece not only opens our kids’ ears to rich, wonderful orchestrated sounds and the instruments represented but also holds our attention with this unique interpretation of a classic story of colorful characters, choreography and ultimately imparts a lesson.  Even after you or your child experiences Peter and The Wolf, especially this beautiful production, one can’t help but think of Peter, The Hunter, The Wolf and the other animals when hearing those particular brass, string or wooden instruments.

Guggenheim Works & Process is a performing arts series unlike any other. Visit worksandprocess.org.  Next Up: A Holiday Concert Dec 17 & 18 2017

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