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Vermaak | Entertainment > Teater | Theatre > Kennisgewings | Notices > Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’ Visited and Revisited: The Classic Children’s Musical Tale Gets a Fresh New Coat of Paint!

Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’ Visited and Revisited: The Classic Children’s Musical Tale Gets a Fresh New Coat of Paint!


Seven Decades of Tradition

‘Peter and the Wolf’ is a children’s tale that, through specific musical themes created for each character, explores the different instruments in an orchestra. Commissioned by the Central Children's Theatre in Moscow, the work was composed by Sergei Prokofiev in 1936 with the intent to cultivate "musical tastes in children from the first years of school". Over the last 74 years, this playful classic has gained immense success, and is consistently delighting and inspiring children and adults of all ages.

As always, the production features a narrator whose business it is to tell the story and explain the role of the different musical instruments which are associated with characters in the play. The horns, for example, represent the wolf, and the aggressiveness of the percussive instruments symbolises the hunters who are out to get the wolf. The doddering, grumpy old granddad is musically “voiced” by the bassoon; the cat by a nimble clarinet, and so forth.

The legendary theatre actor Brian Webber, well loved for his alternative and magical theatre characters, assumes the role of narrator, and his unique approach promises to be a delight for adults and children alike.

Re-imagined and Fresh

On its own, the play runs at just under half an hour long, but the creative team of this new production has come up with an innovative concept that increases the running time, whilst adding dramatic meat to the stew. This innovative re-envisaging of the show sees the story first being played out in its traditional version. But then the audience is presented with a “remake”, so to speak, which looks at the story through a contemporary lens, and incorporates issues such as bullying and cruelty to animals, which have relevance and meaning to today’s young audiences.

Whereas the play’s characters are normally portrayed only by musical instruments, this mounting of the show incorporates actor-dancers, who bring movement to this cautionary tale of obedience, courage and bravado with the requisite drama - and comedy, which young audiences so love. The performers will be headed up by the respected dancer, teacher and all-round dance doyen, Nigel Hannah, as Peter’s ultra-fit and flexible Grandfather.

This new take on an old classic also incorporates guided audience participation, which will engage the children in attendance. Says the show’s director Sylvaine Strike, “While we've shown due reverence to its classic roots, the show now has a more contemporary feel. I have developed the style of the show on the premise that a child’s imagination is limitless. For me, ‘Peter and the Wolf’ is the outline of a story filled with so much potential to go just about anywhere. I am fascinated by the child’s capacity to create an imaginary world for himself and believe in it completely. It is a world in which he is able to conquer his fears, talk to animals, discover a love for nature and his environment, and more importantly, play alone without being entertained; something very few children today are able to do. It is from this angle that I entered this creative process with my performers.”

“South African children of all ages and from all backgrounds will easily be able to identify with the setting and the characters,” Sylvaine continues. “This introduces a fresh new angle for people who‘ve seen the musical play many times previously. We're also very lucky to have Esther Nasser and Thabo Rapoo on board, seeing to the dance aspects of the show. Working alongside these two phenomenal choreographers extends the piece beyond Prokofiev’s evocative music, developing movement of the animal and human characters to their full physical potential. This, again, adds new elements to an old favourite."

The Creative Team

Esther Nasser
Esther Nasser, Artistic Director and Producer of the Tshwane Dance Theatre, is one of the best-known and most highly respected figures on the South African dance scene. The former Artistic Director of the State Theatre Dance Company, she has been actively involved in the transformation process in local dance and theatre, and has made it her business to discover and develop latent talent in South Africans from all social strata. Apart from creating - and boosting - the careers of many young dancers, she has also been very active in helping dance academies build professional profiles, thus establishing themselves as major players in dance, both nationally and internationally. Esther just recently completed the choreography for the new musical Jock of the Bushveld, which has been playing at the Jo'burg Theatre in Braamfontein.

Sylvaine Strike
Sylvaine Strike is the Artistic Director of the Fortune Cookie Theatre Company, which she co-founded alongside Brian Webber. Sylvaine has established herself as a leading stage, TV and film actress, voice-over artist, creator and director since 1994. Having received her training from the UCT Drama School 1991-'93, she went on to specialise in physical theatre and movement analysis at the Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris, 1998-2000. She is best known for her company’s innovative plays that have captivated audiences both nationally and internationally, amongst which are ‘Fortunately’, ‘The Travellers’, ‘Coupé’, ‘Pregnant Pause’ and ‘The Butcher Brothers’. She has also been kept busy juggling theatre work with appearances in local and international TV, and numerous film projects, such as ‘District 9’, ‘Spud’, ‘Liefling’ and ‘Winnie’. Sylvaine Strike is the recipient of the 2006 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Drama, and was one of the 25 worldwide nominees in line for the prestigious Rolex Mentor Protégé Arts Initiative 2010.

Nigel Hannah
Nigel Hannah was a student at the Royal Ballet School from the age of 12. He joined the former PACT Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet in 1977, and in 1992 was the first dancer to achieve the status of Character Principle with the company. His career has seen him dance nearly every character role within the ballet repertoire. Some of his most notable roles include Widow Simone and Alain in La Fille Mal Gardee, Madge in La Sylphide, Dr Falké and the Jailer in Rosalinda, and Dr Coppélius in Coppelia. In recent years, he has gone on to teach, consult and adjudicate, and generally become an integral and highly regarded player on the local ballet scene.

Thabo Rapoo
Thabo began dancing with a Pantsula group in the mid-’80s, but it was a three-year diploma in dance at the Johannesburg Dance Foundation that exposed him to a wide range of styles. His professional dance career began in 2002, when he entered two works at the FNB Vita Dance Umbrella. His work has also been enjoyed locally at the Grahamstown National Art Festival, and has travelled as far as Italy, Austria, Luxembourg and Sweden. He frequently holds workshops in South Africa and Botswana, constantly striving to develop new and upcoming talent. In 2008/9 he was awarded a Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year Award, and recently spent three months in Indonesia, studying Javanese Classical dance. Thabo has choreographed numerous openings for prestigious TV shows and expositions, and also functions as Resident Choreographer at Moving into Dance Mophatong, in addition to occupying various postings in dance education.


For school bookings, contact Queen ([email protected]) or Nevolan ([email protected]) on 011 674 1356/7/8/9 or fax on 011 674 2365.

Other bookings can be made at Computicket Outlets (Checkers Hyper and Shoprite), or online at www.computicket.com


VENUE: Joburg Promusica’s Main Auditorium
DATES: November 11th – December 15th 2010
TICKETS: R50 (School Bookings)
R75 (Public Performances)

For the time listings on each show, and to check which are school shows or public performances, visit www.promusica.co.za

The Joburg Promusica theatre complex, situated within the Civic Centre at 100 Christiaan De Wet Drive, Florida Park, Roodepoort, offers ample free and guarded parking for patrons.