If you are looking for a way to introduce your children to fine music, go to Belhaven College on May 1. The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra and Puppetry Arts Theatre will present "Peter and the Wolf." Peter Zaplatel, artistic director at Puppet Arts Theatre, describes the show as "an intro to classical music for children."
The family fun show, consisting of eight almost life-size puppet characters interacting with a real life narrator, is performed in a unique Czech-style black theater technique, which means puppeteers control the puppets from behind, remaining unseen by the audience.
"The story is about a young boy named Peter who disobeys his grandfather and goes out in a meadow to play. At one point, with the help of hunters, they catch a wolf causing trouble and they take him to the zoo. It's not a very involved story; it is much more fun musically," Zaplatel says.
The popular story is played to the music of Sergei Prokofiev, the 20th century Russian composer remembered for writing a broad range of musical genres, including symphonies, concerti, film music, operas, ballets and program pieces.
"We've done this show 186 times. We were asked by the Mississippi Symphony to participate in this performance, and we've done this show with the symphony the past two years," Zaplatel says.
Described as the "world's most popular musical tale," the Puppetry Arts Theatre has had "Peter and the Wolf" in their repertoire since 1968, and Zaplatel says this particular version has been their repertoire since 1982.
This performance is part of the Mississippi Symphony's Pops Series. Other shows in that series include "An Evening with Charlie Chaplin," "A Night at the Oscars" and "Pepsi Pops." This is the second time this year that the symphony has played at Belhaven College. They performed their famous "Mozart by Candlelight" on campus in January.
The Puppetry Arts Theatre's Web page describes the group as "a professional touring theatre company offering exciting variety of outstanding programs introducing children of all ages to classical music, theatre, and puppetry." The group, in operation for more than 30 years now, takes classic stories and creatively re-tells them, in hopes of motivating children to read.
The Symphony, directed by Arkansas native Crafton Beck, will perform an hour and a half for the children; the story will last 40 minutes. "The whole concert is a children's concert, but it will be enjoyed by adults, too," Zaplatel says.
Actors/puppeteers for "Peter and the Wolf" include J.C. Patterson (Narrator), Ruth Broome-Hackman, Erica Flannes, T.J. McSparrin and Peter Zapletal.
The show will be performed at 2:30 p.m. at Belhaven's Center for the Arts on 528 Riverside Drive. Attendees can park at the Center for the Arts, or if the lot fills up, there are spaces along the curb, beside Newell Field.
For more information, call 601-960-1565 or check out http://www.mspuppetry.com.