Volume 10 Week 10

Monday, Aug. 3


 

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(Posted 11:30 a.m., Dec. 6)

Children's classic a treat for the whole family
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

OYP's production of 'The Story of the Nutcracker' continues today at the Orleans Theatre on Centrum Blvd. with two performances at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Fred Sherwin/Photo


One of the things I look forward to the most around the holiday season is going to see "The Nutcracker" or various versions of the children's classic. Chalk it up to the inner child in me, I guess.

This weekend the Orleans Young Players all ages Christmas Class is presenting their own version of the holiday classic about a young girl who dreams about her toys coming to life in the Land of Enchanted Dreams.

"The Story of the Nutcracker" is actually an adaptation of an adaptation written by Michelle L. Vacca and first presented by Orleans Young Players two years ago.

In this most recent version adapted and directed by OYP artistic director Kathi Langston, political correctness is taken to a whole other level. The Nutcracker fights with his feet rather than a sword, the Mouse King never really actually dies and the fierce North Wind is little more than a winter breeze. Still the central theme of the Nutcracker, which is that anything is possible in our dreams, remains.

In the opening act, Herr Drosselmeyer brings three toys for Marie and Fritz -- a doll, a soldier and a nutcracker. After the family goes to bed, Marie sneaks back downstairs to say goodnight to her new friends and falls asleep with the nutcracker in her arms which is when the magic begins.

Marie is transported off to the Land of Enchanted Dreams where she meets the Nutcracker, the Soldier and Clara the Doll, who have all come to life. Before they can get acquainted, however, they are attacked by the Mouse King and his minions.

While the Soldier tries to fend off the mice with his sword, the Nutcracker, oddly enough, battles them by step-dancing. You have to see it to believe it. But as the Mouse King begins to gain the upperhand Marie hits him in the head with her shoe which breaks a spell cast on the Nutcracker and turns him into a handsome Prince.

After the battle, the Prince, the Soldier, Miss Clara and Marie make their way to the Land of Sweets where they meet the Snow King and Queen and the beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy along with a number of delightful characters including Tutti Frutti, Bonbon and two adorable pages named Butterscotch and Taffy.

When the Sugar Plum Fairy learns of Marie's heroics she throws a party during which the characters learn of the Christmas costumes in Mexico, India and Russia.

The play ends with Marie waking up with the Nutcracker still firmly in her grasp and the soldier and doll by her side. Thrilled that the young girl enjoyed her adventure, Herr Drosselmeyer delivers a universal message to the audience about the magic of Christmas dreams.

The magic of OYP's production of "The Story of The Nutcracker", is in the performances of the tremendous cast, especially Madison Meyer, who plays Marie and Tyler Smith as Fritz.

But in particular, although she wasn't on the stage for very long, Kierra Hughes did an amazing job as the North Wind. It wasn't until I read the program after the play that I realized she also played Tutti Frutti which is doubly impressive because in watching the play you never would have realized the same actor played both characters, which is a testament to her abilities.

But probably the most magical performance of the evening was turned in by sisters Emily Lebel and Rebecca Lebel who play the dancing snowflakes as well as Butterscotch and Taffy. They're both absolutely adorable and if they don't put a smile on your face then you're definitely not in the holiday spirit.

The remainder of the cast included Kelsae Harding as the Soldier; Henri Fiest as the Snow King; Kathleen Sims as the Nutcracker Prince; Lynn Lebel as the mother; Michael Wright as the Mouse King and Bon-Bon; Ian McGregor as Herr Drosselmeyer; Emma Clarkin as the Sugar Plum Fairy; Barbara Bucknell as the Snow Queen; Scott Kirstjanson as father; Holly Norman as Clara the Doll; and Heather Moore as Bittersweet.

Anastasia Broud, Nidhi Gupta and Natalia Mohar also made appearances as the Little Russian Girl, the Indian Dancer and the Little Mexican Girl respectively.

The play continues today, Monday, Aug. 3 , at the Orleans Theatre on Centrum Blvd. with two performances at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for students and OYP family members.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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