DE PERE, Wis. (WFRV)
Year 41 for The Dance Company’s rendition of “The Nutcracker” sails on, steady as she goes in its distinctive ways.
The fourth, and final, performance is scheduled for 1 p.m. today, Sunday, Dec. 1, in Walter Theatre of Abbot Pennings Hall of Fine Arts at St. Norbert College.
Artistic director Shirley Van’s version includes two moments of narrative to help set the tone: A girl’s beloved and magical uncle speaks of childhood and dreams, and then a story of imagined romance unfolds amid much fantasy.
This full-bodied version begins with a substantial prologue with maids of a family in a far-off land preparing a large home for guests for a Christmas celebration. It is a time past when wall sconces with candles serve as lighting. Guests – knots of families – arrive by way of the audience aisles. Festivities include dancing, toasting and a show for the children by young Clara’s uncle. Included are a puppet show and toys brought to life – a mechanical doll, a harlequin doll and two scary panthers. Uncle Drosselmeyer gifts Clara a nutcracker in the form of a soldier. Clara’s brother, Fritz, who already is sassy, is miffed when his gift is a mere walnut for cracking by nutcracker. Fritz and a buddy break the nutcracker. Uncle Drosselmeyer wraps a scarf around the soldier nutcracker’s neck. When Clara sleeps, she dreams of her nutcracker as a man, a daring prince of battle and of romance in a wonderland.
The Dance Company’s production is storytelling – with dance – on a large scale (60-plus performers). As usual, some roles are double-cast and cross-cast, with the dancers playing different characters from performance to performance along with other roles in the course of each performance.
Costuming, storytelling, disciplined dancing, fun-for-the-young dancing, aura, imagination and a sense of joy in doing color the production. Some gymnastics are part of the movement excitement in The Dance Company’s version fashioned by Van’s team of Carrie Wielgus (show director), Jami Goodman (assistant show director), Michael Palubicki (stage director) and Bryanna Gauger (dance captain, and key dancer in multiple scenes).
The icing on the cake are Davit Hovhannisyan and Marize Fumero, the striking guest featured dancers from the Milwaukee Ballet. They move as silk, as sinew, as strength, as sensitivity, as skill layered upon skill. In their first featured segment, Hovhannisyan one-hand lifts Fumero above his head in a feat of great difficulty. More than once, they rush and whirl and jump and spin and end up with Fumero nestled in Hovhannisyan’s grasp, beaming.
The Dance Company dancers throw themselves into picturesque motion-scenes.
Notable this year is “Waltz of Flowers” with males joining in the flourishes. Also a bit different is the interplay between the Harlequin and Ballet Doll in the magical sequence.
Always big and eye-filling are the battle between the soldiers and rats (with fantastic, large heads) and “Snow” with its churn of energy.
The sequence with the international dances is again different, as it is year to year, with the creative team’s imagination fitting dancers to colorful splashes.
Versatility is on display as dancers show up in scene after scene, costume change after costume change, character after character. The practice and hard work and love of doing radiate.
Well done. Again.
Running time: Two hours, 20 minutes
Remaining performance: 2 p.m. Dec. 1
Info: snc.edu/tickets or gbdance.org
Sources/credits: Story – based on book by E.T.A. Hoffman; composer – Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky; orchestra (recorded) – Richard Bonynge and The National Philharmonic Orchestra; orchestra for “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” – Enshu Radio Symphony; Pages song – “The Sleeping Beauty, Opus 66: 10. Entr’ acte Et Scene;” The Dance Company artistic director – Shirley Van; show director – Carrie Wielgus; assistant show director – Jami Goodman; stage director – Michael Palubicki; dance captain – Bryanna Gauger; costumes chair – Ann Suring; production chair – Dave Pyres; props – Alanna Miller, Kelly Pieschek, Kathie VanPrice; lighting – Scott LaPlante; audio/video – Thomas Danz
Casting key: *Friday night and Saturday afternoon. +Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. #Understudy
Scene 1 – The Party
Uncle Herr Drosselmeyer: Matt Maloney
Mother: Tammy Petras
Father: Dave Wigman
Clara: *Lily Mannion, +Koree Brosig
Fritz: *Grace Nimmer, +Jessie Petras
Clara’s Friend: *Koree Brosig, +Lily Mannion
Fritz’s Friend: *Jessie Petras, +Grace Nimmer
Girls: *Lauren Buchmann, *Megan Buchmann, *Sylvia Pryes, Michelle Brunette, Sophia Cruz-Reznicek, Emily Legois, Cece Melberg, Jazmin Queoff, Andrea Vance, +Savannah Budworth, +Kayla Hecker, +Liliana Trace
Boys: *Keyla Christensen, *Clarissa LaPlante, *Izzy Nelson, *Amber Polomis, Ilianna Castro, Sonia Ettinger, Yuritzi Flores, Emma Johnson, Grace Nimmer, Jessie Petras, Jayna Schema, Addison Schmidt, Ella Thomas, Ella VanPrice, Kate Miller, +Ally Boockmeir, +Natalie Danz, +Grace Pieschek, +Aubrey Postl
Mothers: Katelyn Badeau, Maggie Donovan, Bryanna Gauger, Hannah Schmitz, Morgan Wigman, Josey Wolf
Fathers: Isaac Bowman, Richard Dauphinais, Andrew Delaurelle, Owen Schroeder, Hunter Vannieuwenhoven, Troy Wypishinski-Prechter
Harlequin: *Ally Boockmeier, +Izzy Nelson
Ballet Doll: *Kayla Hecker, +Sylvia Pyres
Panthers: *Natalie Danz, *Grace Pieschek, +Clarissa LaPlante, +Amber Polomis
Maids: *Natalie Danz, *Grace Pieschek, +Clarissa LaPlante, +Amber Polomis
Tutor: Avery Spoerl
Scene 2 – The Battle
Clara: Marize Fumero
Nutcracker Prince: Davit Hovhannisyan
Uncle Drosselmeyer: Matt Maloney
King Rat: Morgan Wigman, #Kayla Hecker
Lead Rats: Sonia Ettinger, Kayla Hecker, Hannah Schmitz
Rats: Ally Boockmeier, Koree Brosig, Clarissa LaPlante, Lily Mannion, Kate Miller, Sylvia Pryes, Addison Schmidt, Avery Spoerl, Ella VanPrice
Baby Mice: Michelle Brunette, Ilianna Castro, Yuritzi Flores, Brooklyn Klarner, Cassie Kubale, Emily Legois, Grace Mehlberg, Jazmin Queoff, Lauren Robillard, Ella Thomas, Morgan Veldboom
Soldiers: Katelyn Badeau, Natalie Danz, Bryanna Gauger, Emma Johnson, Morgan Lemens, Maria Miller, Izzy Nelson, Grace Nimmer, Grace Pieschek, Jessie Petras, Grace Pieschek, Amber Polomis, Jayna Schema, Josey Wolf, Troy Wypishinsk-Prechter
Scene 3 – Journey Through the Land of Snow
Snow Queen: Bryanna Gauger
Snow Leads: Koree Brosig, Kayla Hecker, Jessie Petras, Morgan Wigman
Snow Princesses: Principal and Soloist Dancers
Clara: Marize Fumero
Nutcracker Prince: Davit Hovhannisyan
King Rat: Josey Wolf
Angels: Lauren Buchmann, Megan Buchmann, Savannah Budworth, Keyla Christensen, Lucy Greiling, Shaelyn Martineau, Caroline Massart, Aubry Postl, Emma Schroeder, Harper Schroeder, Maren Schultz, Jackson Toivonen, Liliana Trace, Andrea Vance
Court Dancers: Michelle Brunette, Yuritzi Flores, Cassie Kubale, Emily Legois, Jazmin Queoff, Ella Thomas
Crown Presenter: Andrea Vance
Pages: Junior Illianna Castro, Brooklyn Klarner, Cece Mehlberg, Lauren Robillard, Morgan Veldboom
Spanish: Jessie Petras, Morgan Wigman, #Bryanna Gauger
Lead Jester: Amber Polomis
Jesters: Morgan Lemens, Kate Miller, Jayna Schema, Addison Schmidt, Ella Thomas, Ella VanPrice
Jesters’ Magic: Ally Boockmeier, Sonia Ettinger, Yuritzi Flores, Izzy Nelson, Grace Nimmer, Hannah Schmitz
Flutes: Koree Brosig, Bryanna Gauger, Kayla Hecker, Lilly Mannion, Sylvia Pyres
Russian Girls: Clarissa LaPlant, Grace Nimmer, Jessie Petras, Amber Polomis
Russian Boys: Katelyn Badeau, Owen Schroeder, Hannah Schmitz, Troy Wypishinski-Prechter, #Jayna Schema
Chinese: Natalie Danz, Emma Johnson, Maria Miller, Avery Spoerl
Arabian: Koree Brosig, Lily Mannion, Grace Pieschek, Sylvia Pryes, Josey Wolf, Morgan Wigman, Troy Wypishinski-Prechter, #Addison Schmidt
Queen Mother: Katelyn Badeau
Offspring: Lauren Buchmann, Megan Buchmann, Savanna Budworth, Keyla Christensen, Aubry Postl, Liliana Trace, #Andrea Vance
Sugar Plum Fairy: Kayla Hecker
Waltz of the Flowers: Principle, Soloist and Ensemble Dancers
Pas de Deux: Marize Fumero and Davit Hovhannisyan
Finale: Principal, Soloist and Ensemble Dancers
NEXT: “The Little Mermaid,” March 19-22.
THE 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.