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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Review: Dance Company’s ‘Nutcracker’ colorful

The production has reached the enviable 35-year mark.

DE PERE, Wis., (WFRV) – From one year to the next with The Dance Company’s production of “The Nutcracker,” two things remain constant: The title and Shirley Van as artistic director. Other than that, everything else is fair game for change or tinkering.

This is the 35th annual production. Performances in Walter Theatre of St. Norbert College continue through Sunday, Dec. 1. Info: tickets.snc.edu.

The personality of The Dance Company’s “Nutcracker” is shaped by scale, color, costuming and two sections of narration by Mike Palubicki as kindly and magical Uncle Herr Drosslemeyer. Through the uncle’s words, we are drawn into a dream of Clara and see an enchanted land filled with dancing flowers, exotic performers, and, importantly, a prince.

Again, this is a very good, enjoyable production (4+ stars out of 5) that brims with activity over its 2¼ hours.

The leading, guest dancers from the Milwaukee Ballet strike quite a figure this year. Mayara Pineiro is a native of Cuba who is a whisp. Davit Hovhannisyan is a native of Armenia who has a swashbuckling aura. Individually or together, they move with flair. Hovhannisyan lifts Pineiro smoothly, presenting her as if she is a feminine statue to admire. Applause, applause.

As usual with The Dance Company’s “Nutcracker,” many roles are double cast. With many performers playing multiple roles (requiring multiple costumes), it takes masters at logistics to pull off the four performances. The sheer size is impressive.

The program

*Friday night and Saturday afternoon. +Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. #Understudy

Act I

The Party

Uncle Herr Drosselmeyer: Mike Palubicki

Mother: Tammy Petras

Father: Dave Wigman

Grandfather: Rick Vandenberg

Clara: *Jami Suring, +Bryanna Gauger, #Jorey Jossart, #Julianna Cibula

Fritz: *Colin LeMoine, +Anna Hastings, #Morgan Wigman, #Morgan Roznowski

Boys: Keighley Blindauer, Koree Brosig, Gabby Cantrall, +Hannah Goodrich, Kayla Hecker, Lexy Lipsh, *Hailey Maxwell, Larissa O’Malley, Madison Renard, Morgan Roznowski, Santanna Siebert, Anna Smits, +Lexine Smits, *Morgan Wigman, Natasha Wilger, Troy Wypishinski-Prechter.

Girls: Lainey Botz, +Genelle Basten, Greta Basten, *Julianna Cibula, *Emma Johnson, +Jorey Jossart, *Clarissa LaPlante, +Morgan Lemens, Mackenzie Long, Lillian Mannion, Grace Nimmer, Allison Osterloh, Amber Polomis, +Annika Priess, +Jayna Schema, Josey Wolf.

Clara’s friends: *Jorey Jossart, +Julianna Cibula

Fritz’s friends: Morgan Roznowski, Morgan Wigman

Mothers: Bobbi Hecker, Jodi Lipsh, Dana Maxwell, Kelly Wolf, Tayler Wypishinski-Prechter

Fathers: Bob Hecker, Travis Lipsh, Tyler McBride, Devonte Stevenson, Nick Rulseh

Ballet Doll: *Bryanna Gauger, +Jami Suring, #Julianna Cibula

Harlequin: *Lexine Smits, +Hailey Maxwell, #Gabby Cantrall

Panthers: *Anna Smits/Hannah Goodrich, +Morgan Wigman/Colin LeMoine, #Jorey Jossart

Maids: Maggie Donovan, Hannah Vanden Heuvel

The Battle

Clara: Mayara Pineiro

Nutcracker Prince: Davit Hovhannisyan

Uncle Herr Drosselmeyer: Mike Palubicki

Lead Rats: Julianna Cibula, Maggie Donovan, Hannah Goodrich, Madison Renard

King Rat: Jami Suring

Rats: Keighley Blindauer, Gabby Cantrall, Kayla Hecker, Larissa O’Malley, Hailey Maxwell, Hannah Vanden Heuvel, Tasha Wilger, #Koree Brosig, #Santanna Siebert

Fritz: *Colin LeMoine, +Anna Hastings, #Morgan Wigman, #Morgan Roznowski

Soldiers: Bryanna Gauger, *Anna Hastings, Jorey Jossart, +Colin LeMoine, Lexy Lipsh, Morgan Roznowski, Anna Smits, Lexine Smits, Morgan Wigman, Tayler Wypishinski-Prechter

Journey Through the Land of Snow

Snow Princesses: Principals and Soloists

Act II

Clara: Mayara Pineiro

Nutcracker Prince: Davit Hovhannisyan

Angel Princess: Koree Brosig

Angels: Lainy Botz, Ilianna Castro, Emma Havelka, Jordan Jackson, Emma Johnson, Brooklynn Klarner, Morgan Lemens, Erin Polomis, Sylvia Pryses, Addison Schmidt, Skler Streckenbach, Morgan Velbloom, Hailey Voegtline

Pages: Genelle Basten, Greta Basten, Clarissa LaPlante, Lillian Mannion, Mackenzie Long, Grace Nimmer, Allison Osterloh, Amber Polomis, Josey Wolf, Troy Wypishinski-Prechter

Court Jester: *Maggie Donovan, +Hannah Vanden Heuvel

King Rat: Anna Hastings

Russian: Bryanna Gauger, Hannah Goodrich, Anna Hastings, Jorey Jossart, Larissa O’Malley, Madison Renard, Morgan Roznowski, Morgan Wigman, #Keighley Blindauer, #Tayler Wypishinski-Prechter

Queen Mother: Tayler Wypishinski-Prechter

Offspring Lead Gymnasts: Greta Basten, Gabby Cantrall, Koree Brosig, Mackenzie Long

Offspring: Ensemble, Junior Company and Trainees

Chinese: *Colin LeMoine/Morgan Wigman, *Morgan Roznowski/Kayla Hecker, #Anna Smits

Flutes: Jami Suring, Julianna Cibula, Bryanna Gauger, Lexine Smits, Hannah Goodrich, #Maggie Donovan

Jesters – Dancers: Keighley Blindauer, Kayla Hecker, Lexy Lipsh, Larissa O’Malley, Santanna Siebert, Anna Smits, Hannah Vanden Heuvel

Jesters – Gymnasts: Koree Brosig, Gabby Cantrall, Hailey Maxwell, Natasha Wilger

Spanish: Anna Hastings, *Madison Renard, +Hannah Goodrich

Arabian: Gabby Cantrall, Julianna Cibula, Jorey Jossart, Colin LeMoine, Travis Lipsh, Hailey Maxwell, Nick Rulseh, Lexine Smits, Devonte Stevenson, Jami Suring, Dave Wigman

Waltz of the Flowers: Principle, Solo and Ensemble dancers

Pas de Deux: Mayara Pineiro, Davit Hovhannisyan

Finale: Company

Key credits

Shirley Van, artistic director; Carrie Wielgus, show director; Jami Suring, assistant show director; Michael Palubicki, acting director; Eve Hastings, costume chair; Randy Hastings, production chair; Tracy Smits, props chair; Jack Rhyner, lighting.

Things that impress in this production…

- As the uncle and narrator, Mike Palubicki generates care, for niece Clara in the story and for the production as a whole.

-The Dance Company doesn’t always have a male to play Fritz, so it was refreshing to see not only a male, but a springy one, Colin LeMoine, in Friday night’s performance.

-The Flutes in Act II seemed especially experienced in their pointe work.

Arabian makes me nervous each time. This year’s edition has an 11-person entourage and a greater degree of difficulty. Medals should be handed out for valor.

-Splashes of color and well-tended movement grace big scenes for “Snow” and “Waltz of the Flowers.”

The production uses aisles to introduce key scenes, the opening arrival of families to the grand party put on in a well-off Russian household of more than a century ago and the arrival of rats sneaking in to battle the Nutcracker Prince and his Soldiers.

If you haven’t noticed by now, composer Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky let his imagination run rampant with “The Nutcracker.” 

VENUE: The 725-seat Byron L. Walter Theatre features a proscenium stage (flat front). Its walls are textured concrete blocks laid in a wave pattern. The ceiling includes white acoustical clouds. Seat material and carpeting are the traditional theater red. The theater is located in Abbot Pennings Hall of Fine Arts at St. Norbert College in De Pere. It is the larger of two theaters in the building, the core of which was built in 1955. In 1989, the Walter Theatre was renovated to improve the lobby and interior aesthetic, adding seating and improving the acoustics.

THE PERSON: Byron L. Walter (1877-1954) was a businessman. He operated Green Bay Hardware, Inc. until his retirement in 1953. Walter was co-founder of Paper Converting Machine Co. and for a time served as president. After his death, the Byron L. Walter Family Trust was established, and it made possible the theater. The trust continues to make widespread contributions to community projects and institutions.

ALSO THIS SEASON: “Cinderella,” March 13-16.

You may email me at warren.gerds@wearegreenbay.com. Watch for my on-air features on WFRV at 6:45 p.m. Thursdays and every other Sunday between 6 and 8 a.m. (usually around 7:45 a.m.)

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