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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Review: ‘Green Bay Nutcracker Ballet’ same, different, colorful, more

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Northeastern Wisconsin Dance Organization

Seasoned dancers McKenzie Van Oss, from left, Randi Osetek and Taylor Ayotte return to the Meyer Theatre to perform in “Green Bay Nutcracker Ballet” presented by Northeastern Wisconsin Dance Organization. (Company photo)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV)

Year 14 for Northeastern Wisconsin Dance Organizations’ “Green Bay Nutcracker Ballet” is the same as but as different as the previous 13.

Same: Music (Peter Illych Tchaikovsky), place (Meyer Theatre), artistic director (Timothy Josephs), set (Jeffrey Paul Entwistle), Sugar Plum Fairy (Randi Osetek) and styles of colorful costuming, among other elements.

Different: Roles performed by many in the 85-member cast, some shifting from previous productions, with some dancers new to this production.

In short, “Green Bay Nutcracker Ballet” is not like a movie, which is the same on every viewing. This live production changes from year to year, with choreographer Timothy Josephs and his creative collaborators having their work cut out for them to make their pool of talent look good.

The story remains one of a girl who receives at Christmastime a nutcracker in the form of a wooden soldier from her magical uncle. In her dreams that night, the nutcracker becomes a prince who journeys with her to a snowy fantasyland in which exotic objects dance for them.

In look, the identity of “Green Bay Nutcracker Ballet” is a massive custom-made show curtain and vividly colored drops for street, interior mansion, snowscape and fantasyland views. The big and bold look was designed by Jeffrey Paul Entwistle, a theater professor at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

The costuming is lovely and filled with detail in every scene. The costuming team poured hours and hours and hours into research and execution to come up with a kind of lavishly decorated cake.

Much, much is packed into the appealing production. Here are a few thoughts.

+ In the featured role of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Randi Osetek is smoothly controlled in her every move. She appears effortless.

+ One of Osetek’s impressive sequences is a leap into the arms of the Cavalier (Kiefer Curtis). The two make it seem as if a feather has dropped on a pillow. The expertise that goes into that is a lifetime of dancing.

+ A bonus in this production is the return of Yevgeny Shlapko as the Nutcracker Prince. Not only are his moves crisp and sinewy, he is forever acting – adding meaning to action along with a dusting of humor.

+ Along with Randi Osetek, this production includes other returnees to the company who have fledged and gone on and on in the dance world. McKenzie Van Oss portrays the Elder Clara, teaming with Yevgeny Shlapko. Taylor Ayotte portrays Snow Queen and Lead Marzipan. What Timothy Josephs has done is finesse the choreography to give each of these dancers splashy tidbits that illustrate their skill.

+ + Early on, much turns around Young Clara and her mischievous brother Fritz. Annalyse Throne is bright and girl-joyful as Young Clara. Fiona Josephs (among her other roles) gives Fritz particularly bratty touches.

+ The snow scene that ends Act I is a-whirl in motion and snowflakes. Amid it all is the degree of difficulty of a lot of dancers bustling en pointe.

+ In the fantasyland, Timothy Josephs’ imagination gives many dancers new to their roles a lot of colorful luster, with Azure Hall and Kaia Rodenheaver given abundant challenges that they pull off smoothly.

+ Character roles abound, with performers clearly delivering. Included are the caring Uncle Drosselmeyer (Scott Ronsmans), the rascally Grandfather (Diane Danihieux) and the joyous Mother Ginger (Curt Christnot).

As in the past, this production taps into the lure of “The Nutcracker” in its blend of fantasy, Christmas, music, disciplined dance and wonder.

***

Running time: One hour, 50 minutes

Remaining performances: 1 and 7 p.m. Nov. 30, 1 p.m. Dec. 1

Info: meyertheatre.org or newdo.org

Source/creative: Version presented Dec. 17, 1892, Maryinski Theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia, with music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky; producer – Northeastern Wisconsin Dance Organization; artistic director and choreographer – Timothy Josephs; scenic and lighting designer – Jeffrey Paul Entwistle; costume designers – Laura Bronk, Kristin Flannery, Cathy Olsen, Emily Paulsen; prop designers – Timothy Josephs, Jeffrey Paul Entwistle; ballet mistresses – Diane Danhieux, Barb Gallagher, Kristen Throne; stage manager – Wendy Huber

Participation/support: Barb’s Centre for Dance, Celebration Dance, Green Bay School of Dance, Stage Right, Dance Unlimited, Julia LaViolette, Door County New Fusion Dance and Performing Arts, Studio M School of Dance

***

Program

Act I

1st Tableau

Dr. Stahlbaum: Curt Christnot

Mrs. Stahlbaum: Kristen Throne

Young Clara: Annalyse Throne

Fritz: Fiona Josephs

Mothers: Laura Bronk, Sue Gerbec, Julie Meyer, Stacy Mingori, Kristin Smies

Fathers: Paul Goska, Dean Rodeheaver, Kaia Rodenheaver, Jonathon Smies

Party Girls: Ashley Burgess, Destiny Carranza, Anna Charnetski, Sofia Czarnecki, Norah Gallagher, Gretchen Paulsen, Madysen Poppe, Jocelyn Silta

Party Boys: Abigail Goodacre, Amara Lautenschlager, Sadie Spindler, Allison Wojtyla

Little Party Girls: Leah Gissendaner, Alexia McMahon, Alaina Rentmeester, Cecelia Smies

Little Party Boys: Finn Berndt, Evan Throne, Gavin Throne, Edison Wojtyla

Maids: Zoe Bronk, Azure Hall

Grandmother: Barb Gallagher

Grandfather: Diane Danhieux

Uncle Drosselmeyer: Scott Ronsmans

Christmas Tree Angel: Dana Vaughan

Floppy Doll: Claire Silta

Mechanical Doll: Anyiah Donald

Soldier Doll: Yevgeny Shlapko

2nd Tableau

Nutcracker Prince: Yevgeny Shlapko

Night Scene Little Dolls: Scarlette Bell, Abigail Foster, Zoey Marcelle, Niamh Pashek, Clair Schueller, Eden Wojtyla

Soldier Doll: Adison Karbon

Soldiers: Destiny Carranza, Emerson Hicks, Adison Karbon, Amara Lautenschlager, Lily Polzin, Joshua Rider, Kathryn Schuettel, Jocelyn Silta, Monica Smies, Jade Tomberlin

Mouse Queen: Ella Mingori

Mice: Samantha Coppock, Zoe Eckberg, Abigail Goodacre, Adorlee Gustfson, Katie Meyer, Katie Rider, Anka, Rinklef, Emmelia Smies, Sadie Spindler, Megan Szkodzinski

Little Mice: Ean Berndt, Julia Luth Maeve Sutto, Octavia Sutto

Elder Clara: McKenzie Van Oss

Snow Queen: Taylor Ayotte

Dancing Snow Flakes: Ashley Burgess, Anna Charnetski, Aniyah Donald, Norah Gallagher, Amelia Gorton, Azure Hall, Fiona Josephs, Adison Karbon, Kendall Lawonn, Lilly Meyer, Ella Mingori, Gretchen Paulsen, Kaia Rodeheaver, Claire Silta, Elaina Welsing

Little Dancing Snow Flakes: Zoe Eckberg, Zoey Marcelle, Niamh Pashek, Clare Schueller, Eden Wojtyla

Act II

Christmas Tree Angels: Destiny Carranza, Lilly Meyer, Dana Vaughan, Elaina Welsing

Angels: Scarlett Bell, Wilhemima Colton, Samantha Cappock, Leah Gissendaner, Adorlee Gustafson, Evelyn Jacobe, Juliet Kyles, Hailey Linz, Julia Luth, Kynlee Mason, Adela Peters, Penelope Rahn, Anka Rinkleff, Kathryn Schuette,l Cecilia Smies, Emmelia Smies, Monica Smies, Annalyse Throne, Jade Tomberlin, Avery Wynveen

Sugar Plum Fairy: Randi Osetek

Procession:

Chocolate: Beth Check, Anyiah Donald, Amelia Gorton

Coffee: Azure Hall, Kaia Rodeheaver

Tea Sweets: Emmerson Hicks, Amara Lautenschlager, Lily Polzin, Allison Wojtyla

Trepak: Anna Charnetski, Sofia Charnetski, Madysen Poppe

Mother Ginger: Katie Meyer, Katie Rider, Sadie Spindler, Megan Szkodzinski

Marzipan: Taylor Ayotte, Kendall Lawonn, Claire Silta

Flowers: Norah Gallagher, Fiona Josephs, Adison Karbon, Gretchen Paulsen

Mouse Queen: Ella Mingori

Chocolate: Beth Check, Anyiah Donald, Amelia Gorton

Coffee: Azure Hall, Kaia Rodeheaver

Tea Sweets: Emmerson Hicks, Amara Lautenschlager, Lily Polzin, Allison Wojtyla

Trepak: Ashley Burgess, Destiny Carranza, Anna Charnetski, Sofia Charnetski, Norah Gallager, Madysen Poppe, Elaina Welsing

Lead Marzipan: Taylor Ayotte

Marzipan: Kendall Lawonn, Claire Silta

Mother Ginger: Curt Christnot

Cookies: Abigail Goodacre, Katie Rider, Ethan Mingori, Sadie Spindler, Megan Szkodzinski, Edison Wojtyla

Girls: Leah Gissendaner, Adorlee Gustfson, Katie Meyer, Anka Rinkleff, Claire Schueller, Annalyse Throne

Cookiettes: Zoey Marcelle, Natalie Renkas

Waltz of the Flowers: Beth Check, Norah Gallager, Amelia Gordon, Fiona Josephs, Adison Karbon, Kendall Lawonn, Lilly Meyer, Ella Mingori, Gretchen Paulsen, Kiaa Rodeheaver, Claire Silta, Elaina  Welsin

Pas de Deux and Coda

Cavalier: Kiefer Curtis

Sugar Plum Fairy: Randi Osetek

Finale: All

Apotheosis (Young Clara): Annalyse Throne

***

THE VENUE: Stop and look around the place. Meyer Theatre’s auditorium is an eye full. Located at 117 S. Washington St. in downtown Green Bay, the Meyer is one of the state’s colorful historic theaters. In its current form, the Robert T. Meyer Theatre opened Feb. 27, 2002. It seats approximately 1,000. The building dates back much farther. It opened Feb. 14, 1930, as one of the palatial Fox movie houses. The place is picturesque. The theater’s interior aura was its saving grace toward the end of the 20th century, when the building was faced an uncertain fate. The architectural/decorative style is defined as Spanish Atmospheric. The auditorium is designed in the manner of a Moorish courtyard of old. The eclectic mix of architectural styles and colors carries throughout the lobbies.

THE PEOPLE: Robert Meyer was president and chief executive officer of Tape Inc. of Green Bay. The theater took his name at the behest of his wife, Betty (Janet Elizabeth) Rose Meyer, whose financial contribution at a crucial time helped revitalize the building. The Rose family has a history of deep commitment to and involvement in the well-being of Green Bay. Robert Meyer died in 1984, Betty Rose Meyer in 2008.

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