BRATTLEBORO -- Enchanting, charming and absolutely iconic, "Peter and the Wolf" has made indelible impressions on its listeners since the moment Sergi Prokofiev first presented his symphony for children in 1936.
"It’s about what it’s like being a kid in the world of adulthood and the world of nature. What a hook!" explained Brattleboro musician and maestro Hugh Keelan. "Basically it’s a window into childhood."
Like many of us, Keelan has long been familiar with "Peter and the Wolf," and lately he has been delving once again into the captivating words and music of Prokofiev’s great creation.
This Saturday, Sandglass Theater’s Puppets in the Green Mountains Festival opens with a unique opportunity to see and hear "Peter and the Wolf" performed by the University of Connecticut Puppet Arts Program with live music by the 14 musicians of the Hugh Keelan Ensemble and the role of the narrator played by Tony Barrand.
The opening performance of this ultra-family-friendly piece takes place on Saturday at 3 p.m., at the Latchis Theatre and is repeated on Sunday at 3 p.m., at the Bellows Falls Opera House.
"It’s very exciting. I’ve worked with all sorts of live theater, but I’ve never done a puppet show," said Keelan.
Working on the piece has given Keelan a new appreciation of its brilliance and new insight into why it remains so iconic.
Young listeners instantly grasp that Prokofiev has linked each character with a particular instrument -- the bird and the flute, the duck and the oboe, the cat and the clarinet, the grandpa and the bassoon, the wolf and the horns, the hunters and the timpani, and Peter and a string quartet.
They also intuitively relate to the hero of the story, the young boy, Peter, who makes his way in the world, despite grumpy grandpas and dangerous wolves.
"It’s all about him creating his happy ending. He creates an outcome," said Keelan. "It’s about the grownups not knowing what the kids are up to. ... It’s about what’s it like being a kid that’s never really understood by the adult world."
Prior to the performances, Keelan will shed some light on the rich world of Prokofiev’s piece with some introductory words and music.
Tickets to "Peter and the Wolf" are $11 and are available at www.puppetsinthegreenmountains.com or by calling 802-579-4554.
"Peter and the Wolf" is one of several festival offerings for families and young children. Others include:
* "Garbage Monster" by the Cengiz Ozek Shadow Theatre of Turkey takes a fabled Turkish character of the peasant Karagoz into the modern day for a fun, action-packed story which asks questions about how we dispose of our trash and what price we pay for polluting our water. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 26 and 27, at noon, at Landmark College, as well as on Saturday, Sept. 29, at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., at Scott Farm in Dummerston.
* "Scenes From a Tree," presented at New England Youth Theatre on Saturday, Sept. 29, at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., encourages children to hear and see the world as the tree sees it. Nathalie Derome and her Quebec company Des Mots d’la Dynamite developed this fanciful piece in collaboration with a group of educators and children from a Montreal daycare center.
* "Memories of a Circus Tiger" by Circo Los of Spain will tickle your family’s funny-bone as contemporary circus performer, clown, acrobat and master of balancing and fixed bar, Boris Ribas, presents a circus seen through the memories of a performing tiger. Performances are at Landmark College on Sunday, Sept. 30, at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.