Story of ‘Peter and the Wolf’ comes to life

Story of ‘Peter and the Wolf’ comes to life

The Symphony of Southeast Texas (SOST) presents story time set to music for the next concert in its Classics Series at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 24, at the Julie Rogers Theatre in Beaumont. “Musical ‘Tails’ Remixed” features a traditional presentation of Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 and is juxtaposed with a unique, visually translated performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf.”

This season, the SOST has challenged itself to include a “twist” in each of the Classics Series concerts where they add something new or unique to each performance. For “Musical ‘Tails’ Remixed,” that twist is the innovative performance of “Peter and the Wolf.”

Boys like Peter are not afraid of wolves! Prokofiev’s timeless musical tale of boy vs. wolf comes roaring to life with the SOST and a vaudeville-inspired performance by actor Michael Boudewyns from theater ensemble Really Inventive Stuff. The orchestra portrays each character with different instruments — flutes flutter like a bird, clarinets stalk like a cat, and horns glare like a big hungry wolf.

Boudewyns has been presenting playful storytelling with orchestras across the country since 2004. Combining the traditions of vaudeville and classic theatre with a generous sprinkling of child-like enthusiasm, he creates skillful and unique performances for all ages, while keeping the music in the spotlight. Hailed by the Philadelphia Inquirer as “immensely likeable” and “using simplicity as a form of genius,” this performance is guaranteed to engage and inspire imaginations of all ages.

“All pieces to me tell a certain story,” said Maestro Chelsea Tipton, II. “You can really hear that story from Brahms in this piece.”

Maestro Tipton will also host a pre-concert talk at 6:30 p.m. featuring special guests. To purchase tickets or get more information, go to www.sost.org or contact the Symphony office at (409) 892-2257. Ticket prices range from $17 to $41; senior, student and group discounts are available.

The Julie Rogers Theatre is at 765 Pearle St. in downtown Beaumont.

Meet Michael Boudewyns

Michael Boudewyns is the performer and producer of “Peter and the Wolf” and the co-creator of the theatre ensemble Really Inventive Stuff, which is a troupe of classically trained performers committed to sharing inspiring, memorable experiences with audiences of all ages. It’s family and education concerts with orchestras, conductors and musicians from all around the world. Really Inventive Stuff productions are created with a core commitment to imaginative, playful, entertaining storytelling. With a sprinkling of child-like enthusiasm, they create skillful, delightful performances that combine the love of vaudeville and passion for classic theatre, while keeping the music in the spotlight.

Boudewyns made his Philadelphia Orchestra debut in 2000, and since 2004 has been a frequent guest artist with the Orchestra’s popular Family Concerts and Beyond the Score presentations. Boudewyns regularly performs family concerts with orchestras internationally (Singapore), in Canada (Victoria and Winnipeg) and throughout the United States (Annapolis, Charlotte, Des Moines, Kansas City, Harrisburg, Hartford, Illinois, Indianapolis, Kennett, Lincoln, Milwaukee, the National Symphony, New Haven, Newark, Philadelphia, Princeton, Richmond, Richardson, Richmond, Saint Louis, Symphony in C, Tulane University, the University of Delaware, and the Westchester Philharmonic).

In an exclusive interview with The Examiner, he provided a glimpse behind the curtain.

What kind of theatre or musical performances did you attend as a child?

I have many memories of theatre and music; I grew up in Des Moines, Iowa. When I was very young, during the summer, my family would go to the state capitol to listen to outdoor concerts of John Philip Sousa marches. In kindergarten, I recall Mrs. Thompson taking our class to see the sixth grade students perform “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” I loved it. I was inspired by the fun, the enthusiasm and the music.

In the early 70s in elementary school, I sang in choir and played trumpet in band. My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. MacIntyre, did theatre games, reader’s theatre, puppet shows and spontaneous in-class performances of books. Mrs. McIntyre was a great teacher. I still fondly think about her classes.

What inspired or led you to create Really Inventive Stuff?

In 2004, Really Inventive Stuff was co-created with my wife, Sara Valentine. We’re both classically trained actors (Shakespeare, Chekhov, Shaw, Wilder) and have chosen to apply our passion for classic stories to great music for families. We approach each orchestra project as a piece of theatre. Sara and I collaborate on the overall conception, while Sara designs all the props and then she directs the staging as if it were a play.

What do you hope the audience gains from a visually translated performance vs. strictly instrumental performance?

Really Inventive Stuff endeavors to create performances that are, first and foremost, playful. We love storytelling that is surprising and delightful. Our goal is to inspire and engage the audience’s imagination while being in the presence of fantastic orchestral music. In the end we want audiences to have had such a fantastic and memorable time with the orchestra that it may inspire kids to learn to play an instrument or take music classes, while making attending live music a regular part of their daily lives — not just for special occasions.

How do you work with or rehearse with the orchestra to prepare for a performance?

Most of my preparation and rehearsal is accomplished before I meet an orchestra. I spend hours studying the score, reviewing the music, rehearsing my blocking and reciting my lines — orchestras typically only have one rehearsal and most of the time, as it should, is dedicated to the musicians and the conductor — so I arrive prepared, like a jazz musician without preconceptions for tempos and dynamics, to partner with the conductor. Every orchestra has a unique sound, and each conductor unveils a new facet of “Peter and the Wolf” and the other compositions in our repertoire. I love how each orchestra I perform with reflects its city and community; whether it’s St. Louis, Philadelphia or Singapore, each town claims a group of musicians as their “hometown team.” It’s a thrill that for the brief time I’m a guest artist. Music is a necessary and much needed part of the community. Music is for everyone; it’s a vital part of humanity. I’m honored to be able to use my talents as an actor and storyteller to help introduce classic compositions and musical stories to young audiences.

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