CEDAR CITY — Most people are familiar with Hans Christian Andersen, the Danish author best remembered for his fairy tales. Likewise, most people have heard of “Peter and the Wolf.” And what better way to share delightful stories like these than through ballet?
Cedar City Junior Ballet will present the tales of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Puppet-show Man” and “Peter and the Wolf” as full-scale ballets on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Heritage Center Theater in Cedar City.
CCJB has an annual tradition of producing a full-length ballet each spring; however, this year, for the first time, it has opted to do two shorter shows instead of one longer one.
“I chose these ballets because they afford opportunities for dancers of all abilities to perform a variety of fun roles, and these stories are accessible and enjoyable,” Christine Mills, director and CCJB founder, said in a press release for the show. “I also wanted to recreate the original ballet of ‘The Puppet-show Man’ by Valerie Silver, my first ballet teacher, who was my role model when we began CCJB.”
According to the press release, surprises and comedy abound in “The Puppet-show Man,” a story of a puppet man at a fair who longs for his marionettes to come to life.
This energetic show is filled with larger-than-life characters, “ponies,” gymnasts, gypsies and an actual professional illusionist named Jason Byers from Boise, Idaho.
“You can’t have ‘live’ puppets without a proper magician!” Mills said.
“Peter and the Wolf” is a perfect introduction to ballet and orchestra, featuring a live narrator, as well as an orchestra that represents each character with a specific instrument or group of instruments. It tells the story of a young boy named Peter who lives with his grandfather in the woods.
Grandfather tells Peter to stay inside their fenced garden to be protected from wolves nearby. But as expected, Peter disobeys and meets all kinds of animal creatures in the woods, ultimately capturing a wolf and running into a group of comic hunters.
CCJB’s production features Utah Shakespeare Festival and Neil Simon Festival actor Dan Frezza as the narrator, as well as a live 23-piece orchestra conducted by Carylee Zwang.
“I have always wanted to use an orchestra for CCJB ballets,” Mills said. “I reached out to Sara Penny of the Orchestra of Southern Utah and she was hugely instrumental, no pun intended, in helping to arrange musicians for the show.”
Costuming for these shows is directed by Lise Mills, artistic director of CCJB. There are 57 cast members – ranging in age from 4 to adult – and 174 costumes, plus just as many head pieces for the dancers and numerous props.
“Tutus are always the most time-consuming costume pieces, but the wolf costume is a difficult one to build as well,” Lise Mills said in the press release. “And I couldn’t possibly get the costumes ready for the production every year without help. CCJB is lucky to have a dedicated group of volunteers including moms, neighbors and friends of cast members, and a few of my personal connections in the professional theater world.”
Cedar City Junior Ballet was founded in 2003 and is the city’s only classical ballet company designed to involve community talent of all ages. Past full-length productions have included “The Secret Garden,” “The Sleeping Beauty,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Coppelia,” “Cinderella” and “Les Patineurs.” It is funded, in part, by Cedar City RAP tax and generous donations from individuals and local businesses.
Tickets are $15 and available at the Heritage Center box office, by calling 435-865-2882 or online. Event organizers say that while these are wonderful shows for families, they are requesting no children under the age of 4 as the productions are recorded.
- What: Cedar City Junior Ballet performance of “The Puppet-show Man” and “Peter and the Wolf.”
- When: Friday and Saturday, March 8-9, at 7:30 p.m.
- Where: Heritage Center Theater, 105 N. 100 East, Cedar City.
- Tickets are $15 and available at the Heritage Center box office, by calling 435-865-2882 or online. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the CCJB Facebook page or website.