A story for the child in all of us

Northern Ballet Theatre promises a magical Christmas adventure in Peter Pan
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The Independent Culture

JM Barrie's classic play Peter Pan, first staged in 1904, has never been surpassed. The poignant tale of the excluded boy who yearns to prolong the idyll of childhood still casts a magic spell.

JM Barrie's classic play Peter Pan, first staged in 1904, has never been surpassed. The poignant tale of the excluded boy who yearns to prolong the idyll of childhood still casts a magic spell.

Now, in the play's centenary, children and childlike adults in Leeds, Edinburgh, London and Manchester are being invited to "escape to Neverland", thanks to David Nixon, Northern Ballet Theatre's artistic director, who is choreographing Peter Pan together with NBT's regular dramaturge, Patricia Doyle. Performed by permission of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity (to whom Barrie donated the rights), it has sets and lighting by the Olivier award-winning stage designer Peter Mumford, and promises a dazzling evening of wonder and escapism.

Dazzling, but also terrifying. Cocooned by Mumford's sets (the Darlings' home, the voracious Captain Hook's pirate ship and the magical landscape of a world beyond), this wonderful vision of eternal childhood evoking Tinkerbell and the Lost Boys and the magic power to fly, has been set to music (in his first ballet score) by the Oscar-winning composer Stephen Warbeck ( Shakespeare in Love, Billy Elliot, Charlotte Gray, Mrs Brown, Captain Corelli's Mandolin).

Two rising young stars, Christian Broomhall and Simon Kidd, who share the title role, are learning how to fly with the theatre flying experts Flying by Foy; and Jonathan Ollivier dances the role of Captain Hook.

As artistic director and choreographer, David Nixon ( Wuthering Heights, Beauty & the Beast, A Midsummer Night's Dream), voted director of the year 2003 by readers of Dance Europe magazine, explains, " Peter Pan has made a far-reaching impact on the world, revealing and appealing to the child in all of us.

"One of the main reasons for choosing Peter Pan for our Christmas show was the story's appeal for boys and girls alike - making it an ideal family show and a vehicle to showcase our talented male and female dancers. More than just a traditional Christmas ballet, our Peter Pan will incorporate flying dancers, puppets, mermaids and pirates! It's an 'adventure' in every sense of the word."

During the run, work starts on NBT's spacious new permanent home, shared with Phoenix Dance and abetted by £3m of lottery money, near Leeds' West Yorkshire Playhouse: another exciting prospect for this vibrant, accessible and innovative 37-strong touring dance troupe, which for 35 years, thanks to its former artistic director Christopher Gable, and Nixon's current enlightened regime, continues to bring delight to all ages.

'Peter Pan', Grand Theatre, Leeds, (0113-222 6222) Sat to 31 Dec; then touring ( www.northernballettheatre.co.uk)

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