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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Peta and the Wolf - 60 minutes

Updated: May 4, 2022

In 1936, Sergei Prokofiev was commissioned by the Central Children’s Theatre in Moscow to write a musical symphony, the result of which was Peter and the Wolf.

It is about a boy and his animal friends who capture a wolf.

Each character is represented by an instrument or class of instruments.

Peter is the string section, the wolf the horns.

Peter’s grandfather claims the bassoon, while the bird is represented by the flute, the duck the oboe and the cat the clarinet.

The hunters are aligned with percussion instruments.

Now, in a world first, one of the original members of Hot Shoe Shuffle – who also appeared in Tap Dogs ­– Christopher Horsey, has reimagined Peter and the Wolf in the guise of tap dance.

Photos by Jane Zhang Photography

We’re introduced to the premise of Prokofiev’s work by narrator Lucy Durack.

Prokofiev’s music has been transposed into everything from jazz and reggae, to rock and punk.

Adrian Szondy is musical director, while he and Andrew Patterson are the composers and arrangers.

Peter has become Peta and his grandfather is now her Elder.

Costuming is vivid and bold, complemented by striking makeup. Staging is industrial.

Joseph Noonan is responsible for costume and set design, and Helen Kharkov for hair and makeup.

Director Horsey has, indeed, taken a risk and it has paid off.

Peta and the Wolf is creativity personified, breathing new life into the time-honoured piece, one of the most widely acclaimed in classical history.

Warner Bros., Disney, The Muppets, The Simpsons, Sesame Street and The Royal Ballet have produced their adaptations, but nothing like this.

Most impressive among the six strong cast is Massimo Zuccara, whose tapping skills and dexterity are astonishing.

He is the last to appear and when he does, he makes an immediate and lasting impression.

Leah Howard as The Elder is also a cut above. When she shuffles onto stage on her Zimmer Frame, we have no idea what to expect. She quickly shows us.

Leticia Keane has a lightness of touch as Peta.

Aubrey Flood’s facial expressions and mannerisms as Ivanka the Duck are highly expressive.

She also has the biggest surprise in store when she reemerges as the hunters times three.

Emma Wickham evokes Joseph’s technicolor dreamcoat as Sasha the Bird.

Jerome Javier prowls and scowls, resplendent in red and black, as Sonny the Cat.

The hour-long performance has across the board appeal. In other words, it straddles age ranges.

Hats off to Horsey, the cast and crew for realising his vision.

Necessity may be the mother of invention. In Horsey’s case, everything old is new again.

Peta and the Wolf is well worth seeing.


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