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MSO and dancers perform for youth

March 03, 2003|BY ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

Peter wasn't afraid of the wolf - and neither was Kristen Peake.

"I'm not afraid of anything," said Kristen, 6, of Smithburg, who attended Saturday's music and dance performance of "Peter and the Wolf" with her family at The Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown.

The entertaining and educational event was part of the MSO's third annual family concert, which also included an opening performance of "The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant" with music by French composer Francis Poulenc.

MSO Music Director Elizabeth Schulze conducted the concert, and Robert Aubry Davis, a host on XM satellite radio and Public Broadcasting's WETA radio and television programs, narrated both performances.

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Kristen anxiously awaited the start of the show among hundreds of others youngsters in the audience for the nearly sold-out concert.

Gary Martin of Sharpsburg surprised his children, Kyler, 7, and Ashlyn, 4, with tickets to the show, said Martin's wife, Michelle. Like many other young audience members, Kyler and Ashlyn wiggled and whispered as they waited for the concert to begin.

Alison Freshman, 6, and her sister Kayleigh, 8, of Waynesboro, Pa., got all dressed up for their outing to the theater.

"My sister did my hair," Alison said.

And Kristen Peake did her homework.

"I've been studying 'Peter and the Wolf' in music class," she said. "I know that Peter is played by the violin and the bird is played by the flute and the wolf is played by the French horn," she said.

Kristen was right.

Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev wrote "Peter and the Wolf" shortly after his return to the Soviet Union in 1936 to introduce children to the different instruments of the orchestra through the characters in the story.

Members of the Potomac Classical Youth Ballet Company portrayed those characters through dance. Lauran Clowser, who is director of the dance company and The City Ballet School, worked with ballet mistress Jennifer Green to choreograph the dance performances.

The cast included Jessica Pike as Peter, Megan Schimmel as Grandfather, Jenna Simon as the duck, Karen Dunn as the wolf, Susan Johnston as the bird, Kristy Koppenhaver as the cat and Amanda Boyer, Rachel Hall and Elizabeth League as the hunters. Hannah Cohen, Lauren Tucker and Jennifer Bell danced the part of water.

Backstage before the show, the dancers donned theatrical make-up and creative costumes.

"I'm really excited," said Jenna, 16. "This is going to be fun."

Jessica, 17, said she'd been practicing more masculine facial expressions and gestures in preparation of her first portrayal of a male character. Karen, 16, donned fake fur over her brown leotard before skulking across the stage as the wolf.

"I like the way I can put the facial expressions together with the dance movements to bring my character to life," she said.

Youngster Katie Usary, 4, buried her face in her mother's arms as the menacing wolf moved toward the unsuspecting duck. The audience erupted in laughter after the wolf hiccuped feathers following his fresh meal.

Some audience members were happier to see the duck revived at the end of the show.

"That was my favorite part," said Stephanie Milani, 8, of Hagerstown.

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