When it premiered here in 2004, during the centennial of James M. Barrie's original, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux's ballet version of Peter Pan was already a marvelous marriage of Neverland and Rossini. In its return engagement at Knight Theater, the North Carolina Dance Theatre production is even more resplendent than before.
Two new inspirations have been added to the effervescent fantasy, set designs by Howard Jones and costumes by A. Christina Giannini. Eschewing the customary underground hideaway for Peter and the Lost Boys, Jones has crafted a splendiferous treehouse that draws an ovation as soon as it appears in Act 2. Less surprising in concept, Jones' design for Captain Hook's pirate ship achieves a similar éclat. In between these two wonders is a transitional zodiac set that isn't too shabby either.
Giannini's costumes produce a couple of jaw-dropping sensations of their own. Gosh, we have the flowery, sexy Tiger Lily and her Incas. But we also have Hook and his Pirates - half of whom are leggy, S&M females! After all the Victorian stylings lavished upon the Darlings and the Lost Boys, out pops an incomparable Crocodile in green major-domo livery - he gets absolute perfection for his moonwalking antics.
Hardly a cloud obscures the pure joy of this Rossini-fueled romp. Wendy doesn't take an arrow, Tinker Bell doesn't quaff poison, and - you want to talk about strange marriages? - we strongly suspect there's something going on between Hook and the Croc. Absolutely everybody is going to live happily ever after in the Bonnefoux version of Neverland, and they're going to dance it out to the William Tell Overture - just emphasize that everybody includes us.
With plastic hooks and fairy paraphernalia on sale in the lobby, Peter Pan is an absolutely ideal family destination, danced to perfection by NCDT with lovely Flying by Foy.