If you love Broadway plays and are excited about the thought of Polk County’s two professional arts organizations collaborating, mark September 29 on your calendar. You won’t want to miss Peter Pan, Wendy, John, and Michael fly high above the stage in Peter Pan.
The Imperial Symphony Orchestra and Florida Dance Theatre are joining their considerable forces to present Peter Pan at Branscomb Auditorium at Florida Southern College in Lakeland for one performance only at 7 p.m. on September 29. The ballet will feature original choreography by Stefan Dolbashian, the theatre’s co-artistic director.
“It’s exciting because this is something we should have been doing for years,” says Carol Krajacic-Erkes, the theatre’s founding director. “Financially, it wasn’t possible; scheduling, things like that, it never worked out. But it’s our 25th anniversary what a way to start the season.”
ISO Executive Director Amy Wiggins also exudes excitement at the thought of having ISO musicians in the pit, playing the music to accompany James Matthew Barrie’s 1904 play.
“This is a show that will elevate both organizations,” Wiggins says. “As Lakeland’s professional performing arts groups, the ballet benefits from live music and the ISO benefits from the grace of the dancers. The ISO has worked with FDT’s dancers in the past to bring whimsy to the opera. Last season, FDT choreographed the story of Tom Sawyer to Aaron Copland’s ‘Appalachian Spring’ and performed during an ISO concert. This collaboration is the next step, and I believe it’s just the beginning.”
Krajacic-Erkes says dancing to “Appalachian Spring” was special for everyone involved.
“It was so nice for the dancers to dance to live music,” not just a soundtrack, and for the ISO to play for performers, she says. “And it was so nice for the audience — it was not just visual.”
In doing the choreography, Dolbashian will detail when the dancers “will fly, when they won’t. Then they get to try it in the theater a week before (the performance). Pretty scary, huh?” Krajacic-Erkes says. “The people who do the rigging and flying, they do it for so many other shows — it’s something they are used to. “
She’s “looking forward” to seeing how her dancers fly. “I can’t wait for rehearsals with the symphony.”
Crystal Norman said it’s the first time in her four years as director of Branscomb Auditorium that people will be flying. “It’s definitely a special event. There have been a lot of exciting things — we’ve hosted several shows on ice, Chinese acrobats. We have a steel grid that allows us to hang chain motors, which is what they do in arena shows.”
Working with the Dance Theatre and Branscomb “is our collective opportunity to bring our performances to the next level,” Wiggins says, and Peter Pan is the perfect play to perform.
“When people talk about live music or dance, they talk about the joy they experience attending concerts, singing and dancing. Peter Pan is a fantastic story of rediscovering the joy of childhood, and it’s perfect to use live music and ballet to tell that opera.”
ISO Maestro Mark Thielen and Dolbashian have picked out the music for the show. “There are some pretty tough pieces of music,” Wiggins says, adding that every year the ISO performs an opera “with live vocals and orchestra, so the opportunity to be part of a full-length ballet is awesome.”
With new choreography, a custom score, and the first time the Dance Theatre will perform a full-length show with a live orchestra, “Peter Pan will be amazing,” Wiggins says.
So buy your tickets before they sell out. The show begins at 7 p.m. on September 29. Tickets range from $15 for students to $60 for Adult Gold, plus fees.