Flying high

Appalachian Ballet’s ‘Peter Pan and Other Works’ draws crowds to Clayton Center

Do you believe in fairies?

Judging from the applause in the Clayton Center for the Arts during Appalachian Ballet Company’s production of “Peter Pan and Other Works,” at least 1,700 ballet lovers also believe in fairies.

“Do you believe in fairies” are the only spoken words in the “Peter Pan” ballet. Pan asks the audience himself after Tinkerbell, danced by Laura Morton, drinks poison Capt. Hook intended for Peter Pan. When Peter, danced by veteran Appalachian Ballet Company member Anne Souder, realizes applause will revive Tink, she speaks the only words in the production when she boldly exhorts the audience, “If you believe in fairies, clap your hands,” at which point the theater erupts in applause and Tinkerbell is revived and jumps to her feet.

Amy Moore Morton, artistic director for the Appalachian Ballet, said the April 24 and 25 shows were well received. More than 800 came to the Saturday night show and around 900 attended the Sunday matinee. Morton praised her dancers for their hard work and the many volunteers who assisted behind the scenes.

The April 24 and 25 shows were the company’s inaugural production at the Clayton Center for the Arts. The show was the first opportunity for the company to actually make Peter Pan fly, with the exception of a short dance the company performed at the Clayton Center’s gala opening. Flight was through ZFX Flying Effects with aerial choreography by Brian Owens as well as Souder, who learned how to fly for the production.

Morton said the dancers were also excited by the response from the crowd when she told the audience the Appalachian Ballet Company would bring their annual production of “The Nutcracker” to the Clayton Center following performances in Knoxville.

Morton thanked the Clayton Center for the Arts management and box office staff for their assistance in the production. She also thanked First Fruits for catering the gala following the Saturday night show and Kevin S. Proffitt of Northwestern Mutual Financial Network for being the presenting sponsor.

Adding to the fun were “pirate men” from the community who played minor roles as swashbucklers for the production. The pirate men were Steve Wildsmith, Bob Hirche, Mark Miller, Scott Hitch, Richard Staley, George Williams and Lance Coleman.

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