A foolish duck, a clever cat, a menacing wolf and a brave boy named Peter. If these characters give you a twinge of nostalgia, you’re not alone. I remember listening to a recording of Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf in elementary school, and being enchanted by the story. The symphony is performed regularly by orchestras around the world, and has been adapted into several films. Each character of the piece is portrayed by a musical instrument or group of instruments; the duck by the oboe, the bird by a flute, the wolf by three French horns. And then, of course, there’s Peter’s theme—a jaunty melody personified by strings. In Annapolis Symphony Orchestra’s (ASO) upcoming performance of the symphony, there’s a twist. The instruments will illustrate the characters and the conductor will narrate as usual, but the parts of Peter and the Wolf will be played by mimes! Magic Circle Mime Co., a renowned, world-traveling company, collaborates with ASO to give Peter and the Wolf a theatrical spin.
Founded in 1978 by Maggie Peterson and Douglas MacIntyre, who remain the primary performers, Magic Circle Mime Co. has performed with most major symphony orchestras in North America, and with many orchestras around the world. Maggie and Doug have backgrounds in theatre and music, which is perhaps why their unique collaboration with musicians works so well. Their productions, some of which include The Listener, and Phantoms of the Orchestra, often bring attention to the relationship between the audience and the orchestra.
Magic Circle’s production of Peter and the Wolf begins with Maggie and Doug as troublemaking mimes. They pester the conductor and pander to the audience. Eventually, the conductor convinces the mimes to help the orchestra, and from there the original story picks up. Peter, an adventurous young boy, decides to venture into the field beyond his garden gate. The duck, bird and cat follow, but they soon meet a wolf. Peter must outsmart the wolf to protect himself and his animal friends. The company’s manager, Rob Robbins, explains that Magic Circle Mime Company’s collaboration with ASO “allows [the show] to be experienced in a whole new way, but the story remains the same.” Even if you or your little one have listened to a recording of the symphony before, this imaginative production is one you must experience live.
Peter and the Wolf begins at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 12th. Great for any age. Run time is a little under an hour.