DE PERE, Wis. (WFRV) – From company to company and year to year, “The Nutcracker” is not cut the same, as if by cookie cutter. This year, The Dance Company of greater Green Bay continues to tweak its already different take on the beloved fantasy.

One more performance remains today, Sunday, Nov. 27, in Walter Theatre of Abbot Pennings Hall of Fine Arts at St. Norbert College.

First-time patrons will see the expected showcase of dance set to elegant and exciting music. The story is simple: A girl receives a nutcracker in the form of a handsome soldier for Christmas, and that night the nutcracker transforms to a human prince with whom Clara shares her dream in a fantasyland.

The sweet dreams of The Dance Company now take place in a candyland depicted in a backdrop, with dances being by bon-bons, marzipan, tea, candy canes, chocolate and so forth, even gingerbread children.

The music (recorded) by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is the same, but some sequencing and the look and movement stylings are adapted – while retaining appeal.

The Dance Company’s “The Nutcracker” is distinct: Like this:

+ During the overture, a scene is created with a household preparing for evening guests for a Christmastime party. Little things are happening, and then there is a bit of mischief – always a bit different from year to year. One bit is this year is Clara’s parents each sneak a shake of a box from underneath to tree to try to guess what’s in them.

+ Guests arrive by way of aisles. Most are families with frisky kids.

+ Also arriving is a beloved relative of Clara and her brother Fritz, Uncle Drosselmeyer. Not only does Drosselmeyer do magic throughout the story, he speaks in The Dance Company’s production. What he says more than sets up scenes; it sets up an aura – an enchantment in words. In part, he tells that Clara’s “imagination has no limits or boundaries” – which could be said of show director Carrie Wielgus and her creative colleagues’ approach to the company’s 44th presentation of “The Nutcracker.”

+ This version also embraces storytelling, with romance very much a part of it.

+ A Punch and Judy puppet show is part of the children’s entertainment.

+ Some dances include gymnastics such as flips for especially nimble dancers.

+ This year, Clara has sequences of dancing with her uncle and father.

+ This year, the “Snow” dance includes Owen Schroeder as the Snow King providing lifts for Ella VanPrice as the Snow Queen – a first for that elaborate scene. Later, Owen Schroeder and Isaac Bowman add lifts in the “Candy Cane” sequence.

+ This year, “Bon-Bons” is an especially snappy comical romp with frisky fun-making all around.

Double casting is common in The Dance Company’s productions of “The Nutcracker,” though that is less the case this year. I saw the near full house Saturday afternoon performance, and enthusiasm and energy were everywhere.

Matt Maloney is Drosselmeyer, and he has a knack for putting personality to the beloved uncle. He also has a certain joy in making magic happen, like causing a stage curtain to rise.

Grace Pieschek is featured in all performances as the Sugar Plum Fairy, a music-box-dancer type of role she is keen at. She has a maturity in her dance presence.

As is tradition with The Dance Company production, dancers from the Milwaukee Ballet play stellar roles. Davit Hovhannisyan, returning from previous years, portrays the Nutcracker Prince who is magically brought back to life by Drosselmeyer after being killed by the King Rat (Jayna Schema) in the battle scene. Davit Hovhannisyan is a striking dancer by himself and a great partner for Marize Fumero. The two feature elegance over daring lifts in their vivid displays of finesse/strength/grace. Davit Hovhannisyan’s hands not only flow with expression, they constantly are at the right place at the right time to make Marize Fumero’s turns and balance and presence be eye catching.

The collaboration by Carrie Wielgus, Jami Goodman, Michael Palubicki, Bryanna Gauger and Katelyn Badeau fills the stage with action. This is a big show – almost 60 dancers with many in multiple roles and colorful costume. It’s a well-coordinated community production.

Something is always happening, whether a solo dancing Harlequin (for instance), a battle between soldiers and rats (the large heads are unique), swirls of snowflakes or flowers by the dozen or sweet treats dancing either sweetly or with zip.

Again, it’s a charming production with its own take on “The Nutcracker.”


Running time: Two hours, 15 minutes

Remaining performance: 2 p.m. Nov. 27


Sources/credits: Story – based on book by E.T.A. Hoffman; composer – Pyotr Ilyich 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 Snow Maiden – Opus 12: Dance of Jesters” (arranged by R. Cramer; The Dance Company artistic director – Shirley Van; show director – Carrie Wielgus; assistant show director – Jami Goodman; stage director – Michael Palubicki; dance captain – Bryanna Gauger; guest choreographer – Katelyn Badeau; guild board president – Rojean Thomas; costumes chair – Renee Ettinger; production chair – Dave Pyres; props chair – Kristy Christensen; lighting, audio/video – Scott LaPlante



Casting key: *Friday night and Saturday afternoon. +Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

Act I

Scene 1 – The Party

Uncle Drosselmeyer – Matt Maloney

Clara and Fritz’s Mother – Tammy Petras

Clara and Fritz’s Father – Dave Wigman

Clara – *Emily Hoeppner, +Sylvia Pryes

Fritz – *Ally Boockmeier, +Sonia Ettinger

Clara’s Friend – Meara Marinan

Fritz’s Friend – Ella Thomas

Ballet Doll – Natalie Danz

Harlequin – Yuritzi Flores

Panthers – Jayna Schema, Addison Schmidt

Maids – Jazmin Queoff, Cassie Kubale, Annika Pries, Sarah McPherson, Hannah O’Neil, Jennifer Duarte Castillo

Butler – Caleb O’Brien

Tutor – Avery Spoerl

Mothers – Emilie Chamberlain, Bryanna Gauger, Emma Johnson, Shantel Martineau, Grace Pieschek, Ella VanPrice

Fathers – Isaac Bowman, Andrew Delaurelle, Jameson O’Brien, Jason Pries, Sam Roffers, Owen Schroeder

Boys – Lauren Buchmann, Megan Buchmann, Ilianna Castro, Keyla Christensen, Elodie Pries, Lauren Robillard, Ella Thomas, Liliana Trace, Morgan Veldboom

Girls – Piper Aaron, Jocelyn Bethke, Savannah Budworth, Delaney Jones, Sofia Kuznetsov, Meara Marinan, Shaelyn Martineau, Layla Paul, Harper Schroeder, Maren Schultz, Natalya Tomac, Andrea Vance

Scene 2 – The Battle

Clara – Marize Fumero

Nutcracker Prince – Davit Hovhannisyan

King Rat – Jayna Schema

Opening Rats – Cassie Kubale, Annika Pries, Keyla Christensen, Jennifer Duarte Castillo

Lead Rats – Addison Schmidt, Ella VanPrice

Rats – Yuritzi Flores, Clarissa LaPlant, Jazmin Queoff, Ella Thomas

Soldiers – *Ally Boockmeier, Ilianna Castro, Natalie Danz, +Sonia Ettinger, Emma Johnson, Sarah McPherson, Hannah O’Neil, Grace Pieschek, Lauren Robillard, Morgan Veldboom

Scene 3 – Journey Through the Land of Snow

Snow Queen – Ella VanPrice

Snow King – Owen Schroeder

Snow Princesses – Ally Boockmeier, Natalie Danz, Sylvia Pryes, Addison Schmidt

Snowflakes – Sonia Ettinger, Yuritzi Flores, Emily Hoeppner, Emma Johnson, Sarah McPherson, Grace Pieschek, Jazmin Queoff, Jayna Schema, Avery Spoerl, Ella Thomas

Act II

Clara – Marize Fumero

Nutcracker Prince – Davit Hovhannisyan

King Rat – Isaac Bowman

Angels – Eleanor Altmann, Indigo Beaumier, Rhea Brux, Inessa Pries, Ella Seidl, Harper Schultz

Cotton Candy Clouds – Lauren Buchmann, Megan Buchmann, Savannah Budworth, Ilianna Castro, Keyla Christensen, Sofia Kuznetsov, Meara Marinen, Elodie Pries, Lauren Robillard, Liliana Trace, Andrea Vance, Morgan Veldboom

Second Act Opening – Sarah McPherson, Annika Pries, Jennifer Duarte Castillo, Hannah O’Neil, Emily Hoeppner, Owen Schroeder, Avery Spoerl, Jayna Schema, Addison Schmidt, Natalie Danz, Grace Pieschek, Sonia Ettinger, Ella Thomas, Jazmin Queoff

Crown Jester – Indigo Beaumier

Chocolate – Sonia Ettinger, Emily Hoeppner

Mother Ginger – Jazmin Queoff

Gingerbread Children – Piper Aaron, Jocelyn Bethke, Delaney Jones, Shaelyn Martineau, Layla Paul, Harper Schroeder, Maren Schultz, Natalya Tomac

Coffee – Ally Boockmeier, Emilie Chamberlain, Yuritzi Flores, Emma Johnson, Sarah McPherson, Hannah O’Neil

Bon-Bons – Lauren Buchmann, Megan Buchmann, Savannah Budworth, Keyla Christensen, Sofia Kuznetsov, Meara Marinan, Elodie Pries, Avery Spoerl (lead), Ella Thomas (lead) Liliana Trace, Andrea Vance

Marzipan – Natalie Danz, Addison Schmidt, Sylvia Pryes, Ella VanPrice

Tea – Jennifer Duarte Castillo, Cassie Kubale, Annika Pries, Jazmin Queoff

Candy Canes – Isaac Bowman, Ilianna Castro, Lauren Robillard, Owen Schoeder, Jayna Schema, Morgan Veldboom

Sugar Plum Fairy – Grace Pieschek

Waltz of the Flowers – Ally Boockmeier, Natalie Danz, Sonia Ettinger, Yuritrzi Flores, Emily Hoeppner, Emma Johnson, Hannah O’Neil, Grace Pieschek, Sylvia Pryes, Jazmin Queoff, Jayna Schema, Addison Schmidt, Ella Thomas, Ella VanPrice

Pas de Deux – Marize Fumero and Davit Hovhannisyan

Finale – Company Dancers


NEXT: “Fairy Tales Reimagined,” spring 2023, dates to be announced.

THE VENUE: The 724-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.