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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Livestream ‘The Magic of the Holidays’ keeps much of a legacy going

Critic At Large

The Dance Company

Scene from “Snow” in The Dance Company’s “The Magic of the Holidays.” (Warren Gerds screenshot)

DE PERE, Wis. (WFRV) – This is the first year in 42 years that The Dance Company of greater Green Bay hasn’t performed its distinctive “The Nutcracker.”

The vision of artistic director Shirley Van tells the famous ballet as a story, including a narration. The version is elaborate and contains romance.

The coronavirus COVID-19 created all sorts of difficulties this year, but the company went ahead with a Plan B – to offer a new show, “The Magic of the Holidays,” and include scenes from its “Nutcracker” as an in-person and livestream production.

Then, more COVID-19 restrictions caused the company to go to Plan C – livestream-only performances.

That works.

“The Magic of the Holidays” includes more than a dozen dances from its “The Nutcracker” set to the lush and lovely and exciting music of Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky along with a second act of dances set to popular songs of the season in freshening adaptations.

Everyone dances masked.

The first performance was presented Friday night, Nov. 27. Three more performances are offered today and Sunday, Nov. 28 and 29.

Performed as usual in Walter Theatre of Abbot Pennings Hall of Fine Arts at St. Norbert College, the production uses two cameras to follow the youthful dancers in front of a backdrop of snow-covered pine trees.

Much effort and coordination are obvious in the production. No. 1 is effort – that being that it exists at all. In the region, other large productions of “The Nutcracker Ballet” have been wiped away completely this year. The Dance Company kind of WILLED something to happen, and it has.

Adapted versions of ensemble scenes fill “The Nutcracker” portion of the program. The ballet’s appeal is retained and embraced by the dancers. It is a nice local production, filled with heart.

During Friday’s performance, a microsecond delay was noticeable in the action. Because there was no in-person audience, there was no applause.

Act II is youthful and playful as the aura shifts from familiar and traditional to new and awash with youth appeal. Three glimpses:

“White Christmas” plays on a jaunty rendition of the song, first with two guys full of zip and vinegar and then with six sparky girls.

“Baby It’s Cold Outside” is a fun/romantic duet with the dancers, as sweethearts, touching (avoided throughout the show), though wearing gloves.

“Peace on Earth” is the finale for the cast that closes with a single little girl holding a candle that is extinguished to close the performance with poignance.

***

Running time: 90 minutes

Remaining performances: 2 and 7 p.m. Nov. 28 and 2 p.m. Nov. 29.

Info: snc.edu/tickets

Program link: https://www.snc.edu/tickets/docs/magic_program.pdf.

Creative (company) –director emeritus – Shirley Van; show director – Carrie Wielgus; assistant show director – Jami Goodman; stage director – Michael Palubicki; guild board president – Bobbi Hecker; production chair – Dave Pryes; props – Kelly Pieschek, Kathie VanPrice; costumes chair – Ann Suring; lighting – Scott LaPlante; audio/video – Thomas Danz; social media chair – Jami Goodman; graphic design – Brosig Designs LLC

Act I

+ Harlequin – Ally Boockmeier

+ Ballet Doll – Koree Brosig

+ Fritz – Grace Nimmer

+ Clara – Sylvia Pryes

+ Boys and Girls Dance – Michelle Brunette, Lauren Buchmann, Megan Buchmann, Ilianna Castro, Keyla Christensen, Sophia Cruz-Reznicek, Brooklynn Klarner, Cece Mehlberg, Lauren Robillard, Harper Schroeder, Ella Thomas, Jack Toivonen, Liliana Trace, Andrea Vance, Morgan Veldboom

+ Snow – Queen – Bryanna Gauger; Ally Boockmeier, Koree Brosig, Natalie Danz, Kayla Hecker, Emma Johnson, Clarissa LaPlante, Morgan Lemens, Lily Mannion, Grace Nimmer, Grace Pieschek, Jayna Schema (understudy Avery Spoerl)

+ Jesters – Lead Jester – Grace Nimmer; Gymnasts – Yuritzi Flores and Ally Boockmeier; Michelle Brunette, Ilianna Castro, Brooklynn Klarner, Cassie Kubale, Cece Mehlberg, Jazmin Queoff, Lauren Robillard

+ Chinese – Natalie Danz, Sonia Ettinger, Ella Thomas, Morgan Veldboom

+ Russian – Isaac Bowman, Emma Johnson, Morgan Lemens, Clarissa LaPlante, Jayna + Schema, Owen Schroeder, Troy Wypishinski-Prechter

+ Flutes – Sugar Plum – Kayla Hecker; Koree Brosig, Bryanna Gauger, Lily Mannion, Grace Pieschek

+ Arabian – Yuritzi Flores, Emily Legois, Sylvia Pryes, Addison Schmidt, Avery Spoerl, Ella VanPrice

+ Spanish – Lily Mannion, Bryanna Gauger

+ Sugar Plum – Kayla Hecker

+ Waltz of the Flowers – Lead dancers – Koree Brosig and Lily Mannion; Sonia Ettinger, Bryanna Gauger, Kayla Hecker, Grace Nimmer, Sylvia Pryes, Addison Schmidt, Avery Spoerl, Ella VanPrice

+ Pas de Deux, Intrada – Morgan Wigman

+ Finale – Koree Brosig, Bryanna Gauger, Kayla Hecker, Emma Johnson, Morgan Lemens, Lily Mannion, Grace Nimmer, Grace Pieschek, Sylvia Pryes, Jayna Schema, Avery Spoerl

Act II

+ Carol of the Bells – Koree Brosig, Bryanna Gauger, Kayla Hecker, Emma Johnson, Clarissa LaPlante, Morgan Lemens, Lily Mannion, Grace Nimmer, Sylvia Pryes, Jayna Schema, Avery Spoerl, Troy Wypishinski-Prechter

+ White Christmas – Ally Boockmeier, Isaac Bowman, Natalie Danz, Sonia Ettinger, Grace Pieschek, Addison Schmidt, Owen Schroeder, Ella VanPrice

+ Frosty the Snowman – Lead – Ella Thomas; Lauren Buchmann, Megan Buchmann, Keyla Christensen, Harper Schroeder, Jackson Toivonen, Liliana Trace, Andrea Vance

+ Baby It’s Cold Outside – Friday evening – Sylvia Pryes and Isaac Bowman; Saturday and Sunday afternoon – Morgan Lemens and Troy Wypishinski-Prechter

+ Music Box Dancer – Michelle Brunette, lianna Castro, Yuritizi Flores, Brooklynn Klarner, Emily Legois, Cece Mehlberg, Jazmin Queoff, Lauren Robillard, Ella Thomas, Morgan Veldboom

+ Seniors – Koree Brosig, Kayla Hecker, Emma Johnson, Owen Schroeder, Troy Wypishinski-Prechter

+ Peace on Earth – Entire Cast

Music credits: Story based on the book by E.T.A. Hoffman; composer – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky; orchestra – Richard Bonynge and The National Philharmonic Orchestra; orchestra for “Sugar Plum” – Enshu Radio Symphony; “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24” – Trans-Siberian Orchestra; “Frosty the Snowman” – Michael Bublé; “Music Box Dancer” – Frank Mills; “Baby It’s Cold Outside” – Glee Cast; “This is My Wish”/“Let There Be Peace” – Voctave; “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” – Christina Perri; “White Christmas” – Michael Bublé, Shania Twain

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