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Ballet flies high with season-ending ‘Peter Pan’

Playing to sold-out houses, the Nevada Ballet Theatre’s “Peter Pan” was winsome, humorous and bright, with just enough “wow” for a memorable season finale.

Fine dancing and a reasonable amount of acting combined for this classic tale of three British children and their evening of a lifetime.

Principal dancer Kyu Dong Kwak has owned the role of Peter since the company premiere the piece in 1999. Artistic director Bruce Steivel, who also choreographed the offering, made the most of Kwak’s dynamic abilities and charm.

Soloist Jared Hunt flew as Peter at some performances (including the Sunday afternoon show, reviewed here) and added some fillips of his own.

Hunt’s Peter, though not as lyric, is a bit more fun. Kwak is a polished Peter; Hunt is less genteel, exaggerating some moves and playing to the audience with good result. Each brings different elements to the role of an impish boy who has no intention of growing up. (Kwak also appeared as one of Captain Hook’s pirates, still dynamic in each moment onstage; when Kwak was Peter, Hunt was a pirate.)

Soloist Racheal Hummel-Nole danced Tinkerbell with enough attitude to do a valley girl proud. The audience could almost sense the “what-ever” Tink felt when Peter wanted to take the Darling children on a trip to Neverland, and no one was especially surprised to see the fairy conspiring with the evil Captain Hook later in the piece. (Soloist Kara Hamburg danced Tinkerbell at some performances.)

As Wendy, principal Yoomi Lee was enthusiastic and especially graceful, with facial expressions mirroring those of the youngest audience members who would have been just as delighted to fly as she appeared to be. (Principal Elena Shokhina also danced Wendy.)

Special kudos go to Nana the Dog, corps de ballet member Aaron Berner (Tom Murphy at some performances), who showed the audience that dogs can indeed waltz.

Apprentice Joshua Lenihan was not a particularly foreboding Mr. Crocodile, but his ballroom-style dance with principal Zeb Nole’s Captain Hook was well done and affirmed that most enemies have some common ground.

More than a dozen youngsters had a fine time early in the second act, as youthful Indians in a cheery sequence, including amusing line dances.

The show’s lighting was one of its strongest features and one of its more negative. Several sequences rely heavily on shadows, and these were completed just at they should have been. But during the flying sequences and some lifts above the stage, the dancers completed their moves in semi-darkness.

Some members of the corps de ballet and apprentices had significant timing issues, and audience members murmured with concern as one dancer came within inches of being dropped after a lift. Alissa Dale’s Mrs. Darling had to curtail her graceful moves in the opening scene when choreography moved her to within inches of the children’s beds.

And, in a long-standing complaint, dancers performed to recorded music.

But the pluses still were enough to make the audience believe.

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