In The Silver Beams Of Starlight
By R. J. Donovan
Everybody seems to have read Antoine de Saint-Exuperty's "The Little Prince" at one time or another. The simple story is one of a pilot who crashes his plane in a desert, comes upon a young boy -- The Little Prince -- and together they learn life lessons.
The sum and substance of it all is that the really important things in life are invisible. They must be felt with the heart rather than seen with the eyes.
Boston Lyric Opera, collaborating with The Wang Center, is holding court at The Shubert at the moment with a new production of "The Little Prince" based on a work that premiered in Houston two seasons ago. It's part of the company's "Flights of Fancy" season that continues with “Eugene Onegin” and “The Magic Flute.”
The score is by Rachael Portman, the libretto by Nicholas Wright and the original production was directed by Francesca Zambello.
With a wonderfully warm performance by baritone Keith Phares (left with Jeffrey Walter) as The Pilot and some engaging secondary characters, "The Little Prince" is a sweet evening. It may not produce genuine goose bumps and the score by Rachael Portman entertains without dazzling, but it's sweet all the same.
Much of the cast does double duty playing more than one role. Among the highlights, Christopher Hutton is all pinstripes and bushy eyebrows as The Businessman, David Kravitz is the Geographer (comically scratching notes in his oversized journal) and David Cushing has fun as the King who's seated in a tipsy throne. As The Fox, Claudia Fox is particularly good as she and the Prince bond in Act Two. Also of particular note is the BLO orchestra, under the crisp baton of Music Director Stephen Lord.
The major roles of the Pilot and Little Prince are double cast. On opening night, Jeffrey Walter (above) was The Little Prince opposite Phares. He’s faithful to the role, even if the poor kid's been saddled with an unflattering (and unprincely-like) costume and wig.
The Prince's costume in particular is a quandary since the rest of the late Maria Bjornson's outfits are colorful and clever. As well, her interesting set is framed by a circular telescope-like opening that expands and contracts during the action.
The chorus of "stars-in-the-making" consist of local children who give it their all as they sing and dance and give motion to flying paper cranes.
“The Little Prince” is a co-production of Boston Lyric Opera, The Wang Center for the Performing Arts, Houston Grand Opera, Skylight Opera Theatre, The Santa Fe Opera and Tulsa Opera.
"The Little Prince" is at The Shubert Theatre, 265 Tremont Street in Boston, through February 27. For information, call 800-447-7400.
Production photos by Richard Feldman.
-- OnStage Boston
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