This is a re-post from August 27, 2012, as Jay Perry was preparing to narrate PETER AND THE WOLF for the first time. He will narrate the 34th and final performance in partnership with Salt Lake Symphony this Saturday. Jay Perry has appeared in Plan-B’s TRAGEDY: A TRAGEDY, FACING EAST, THE ALIENATION EFFEKT, GUTENBERG! THE MUSICAL!, SHE WAS MY BROTHER, LADY MACBETH and every RADIO HOUR. He will next be seen in CLEARING BOMBS, opening February 20.
Before I was born, my mother used to play classical music in our living room and she would often feel me moving to the music or sometimes being soothed by it. I have always been moved by music’s power to take me on a journey and there’s something about musical storytelling that has a deeper resonance in my childhood memories than any other kind. I heard countless nursery rhymes, saw hours and hours of Saturday morning cartoons, read volumes of children’s books and had as many read to me, but their words and images have mostly faded in my memory as have many of my associations with where I was when I encountered them. When I was a year old, mom took me to my first movie theatre to see Disney’s FANTASIA and though I don’t remember seeing it, she later told me I was quiet as a mouse for the entire film, my eyes never leaving the screen. I was too young then to remember that experience now, but I do recall the first time I saw Disney’s animated portrayal of PETER AND THE WOLF very clearly.
I was in the first grade. I can remember the shades being drawn in the classroom. Our teacher made popcorn and we’d moved our desks aside and sat on the floor, a beige carpet, the room was warm with all our boundless energy and as the film began, we fell silent. I remember that after a few minutes, the sounds of crunching popcorn were gone, the wiggling and whispering had disappeared and suddenly, the sensation of being transported into the story overtook me. At one point, I remember the orchestral sounds of the Big Grey Wolf being so powerful that I closed my eyes. The music painted images in my mind that were even more scary and exciting than before so I opened my eyes and looked around. Many of my friends had their eyes closed as well. When it was over we begged our teacher to let us watch it again, and she did. I have loved the story ever since.
Recently, I listened to PETER AND THE WOLF again, this time in my office at home with my cat and a cup of coffee. There was no cartoon, only the music and narration. I closed my eyes and as the three horns began to play the haunting notes of the Big Grey Wolf, my heart began to race. Suddenly I was back in that first grade classroom with the smell of popcorn in my nose and all my friends around me, huddled together. No single piece of music has been with me longer than Sergei Prokofiev’s PETER AND THE WOLF. I love the visceral effect it still has on me and it’s magical power to take me on that journey back in time.
Jay Perry will narrate PETER AND THE WOLF, directed by Christy Summerhays in partnership with Salt Lake Symphony, this Saturday at 2pm at Libby Gardner Hall. All ages are welcome. Click here for more information.