In the summer of 2009 Peter Pan was back in London’s Kensington Gardens, the place where J.M. Barrie first met the Llewelyn Davies family and and where he told the stories about the boy who never grew up. Housed in a big marquee and with the stage surrounded by the audience, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan (to distinguish it from Disney’s Peter Pan?) boasts state-of-the-art, wrap-around, 360° cinematic CGI projections that are beamed onto the walls and ceiling of what is essentially a big tent. With the central stage designed as a bedroom and which is converted (in turn) to Neverland and Captain Hook’s ship, the projections allow cast (via acrobatic wire-work) and audience (via their imagination) to fly above London – swerving to avoid the dome of St. Paul’s cathedral – or dive the watery depths around Skull Island. Reviewers of the production were split between praising the melding of high-tech wizardry with charmingly simple stage production values and criticising the production and adaptation for removing a lot of the emotional heart of the play (Ben Harrison’s production is much nearer in feel to the original play than the subsequent film adaptations such as Disney’s 1953 animated version).
Composer, conductor and orchestrator Benjamin Wallfisch (The Escapist) composes a predominantly orchestral score for J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, using a relatively large orchestra (80+ members) to create both the magic that is Peter Pan as well as the darker side of the original story. A magical air is immediately established as celeste and harp opens the album (“Peter Breaks Through”) and the presence of what sounds like wordless choir and flighty woodwinds maintains an otherworldly and fantastical feel. However, both in this track and the following one (“Peter and Wendy”) there’s a restraint, a hesitancy and perhaps an air of melancholy that tempers the magic. It is not long however before the score opens out to reveal the magic at the heart of the tale. [Read more…]