River Region Ballet group spring show Saturday, Sunday

Published 3:37 pm Friday, March 21, 2014

By David Vitrano

RESERVE – St. John Theatre is used to hosting a wide range of events from musicals and other live theater to pageants to concerts — it even was the setting for a wedding last month — but it has been a while since ballet dancers graced the stage. That is set to change today when River Region Ballet presents its spring show.

The first part of the show is an adaptation of the classic children’s tale “Peter and the Wolf.” Although the story and musical composition about the mischievous boy and his animal friends who are confronted by the dangerous wolf is familiar to most, this telling promises to be different from any telling seen before. That’s because River Region Ballet Director Susan Ferrara choreographed the show herself while costume designer DeAnn Sullivan and set designer Shelley Keller created the look for the show.

Bringing the show to St. John Theatre has presented some unique problems for the ballet troupe, which is used to the more spacious stage at Destrehan High School, but Sullivan said she also feels it presents a good opportunity to reach beyond their regular audience.

“We love to go other places,” she said.

Challenges notwithstanding, Ferrara also seemed to have confidence in her dancers.

“Dancewise, I think we’re OK,” she said as she struggled to get the ballet surface laid across the wooden stage satisfactorily.

Despite the homegrown spin, “Peter and the Wolf” will remain true to the composer’s original intention of creating a work that would expose children to classical music and hopefully cultivate an interest in them. This production has the same intention.

Today’s matinee at 3 p.m. is a special children’s matinee, and the show will be catered to a younger crowd. Audience members are invited to dress as fairies or other woodland creatures, and following the performance there will be an opportunity for audience members to interact with the cast onstage. Tickets for the children’s matinee are $15 at the door.

The other performances, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, will also include a “World Showcase,” highlighting various dances from around the globe, including a selection from the Arabian-themed “Sheherazade,” a Chinese ribbon dance, Irish Celtic dancing, Spanish Flamenco and French Can Can. Tickets for these shows are $20 at the door.

All tickets bought at the door must be paid for by cash or check only.

St. John Theatre is located at 115 W. Fourth St. in Reserve.