Volume 11 Week 4

Friday, Feb. 23


Updated March 2

Orléans Ward
Bob Monette


(Posted 5:30 p.m., Dec. 2)
OYP's Nutcracker is sweeter than grandma's Christmas cookies
By Fred Sherwin
Orleans Online

Marie admires the Nutcracker given to her by her godfarther, Herr Drosselmeyer, during the opening scene of 'The Nutcracker' being presented this weekend by the Orleans Young Players Theatre School at the Shenkman Arts Centre. Fred Sherwin/Photo

When Orleans Young Players artistic director Kathi Langston sat down to script the theatre school's unique version of the classic Christmas play "The Nutcracker", she must have been in the middle of her Christmas baking because there is enough sugary sweetness in the production to bake a dozen sugar cookies.

The play is so filled with cuteness that even the fight scene leaves you feeling ooey-gooey inside.

The cute factor is supplied by the snow flakes, sugar plum fairies and lollipops, played by an ensemble of real life angels.

For those people who have never seen "The Nutcracker", the play revolves around a central character named Marie, who along with her brother Fritz, receive three presents from their godfather Herr Drosselmeyer, who happens to be a gifted toymaker.

Fritz's present is a toy soldier, while Marie's is a doll which she names Clara. The third present is a handsome nutcracker which the two siblings proceed to have a tug of war over.

Not surprisingly the Nutcracker is broken in the tussle. Deeply upset over the broken Nutcracker, Marie retires to her bedroom, only to reappear after the rest of the family has gone to bed to see if the toy can be fixed.

As she approaches the Nutcracker, the clock strikes midnght and all of a sudden Marie finds herself in the middle of a battle betwen a group of soldiers led by the Nutcracker and a bunch of mice led by the Rat King.

As the Rat King begins to get the upper hand, Marie throws her slipper at him. This distracts the Rat King just enough to allow the Nutcracker to vanquish his foe, upon which our hero is immediately transformed into a handsome priince.

During the second act of the play, Marie is led on an incredible journey to the Land of Enchanted Dreams by the prince, the soldier and Clara, who has also come to life.

The four friends first visit the Snow Kingdom where they have a brief encounter with the North Wind, played wonderfully by Ian Stauffer who does double duty as Herr Drosselmeyer.

After escaping the North Wind, the friends arrive in the Land of Enchanted Dreams populated by characters with candy-coated names like Tutti-Frutti, Butterscotch, Taffy and Bon-Bon. To welcome Marie, the Sugar Plum Fairy has Minstrel Sweet tell the story of The Little Match Girl who lights a match to warm herself from its glow.

As she strikes each match, she sees visions of a Christmas tree and a table full of food. A third match allows her to see a vision of her deceased grandmother, the only person that ever treated her with love and kindness.

Not wanting the vision of her grandmother to go away, the girl keeps lighting match after match until her supply of matches runs out. Left with no matches, she eventually succumbs to the bitter cold and her grandmother comes to carry her off to Heaven.

The story is meant to make everyone realize how good they have it, and to celebrate they have a party. Afterwards, Marie returns to her home, where her parents find her sleeping on the living room floor with the toy Nutcracker in her arms.

She is woken by Herr Drosselmeyer who promises to bring the children more toys next Christmas so that they can continue to have magical dreams.

"The Nutcracker" is the perfect play to bring your children to and get into the holiday spirit. It is also guaranteed to warm your heart and put a smile on your face.

OYP veteran Sydney Smith is a joy as Marie and Adrian Soble is wonderful as the handsome prince and the Nutcracker. Kudos as well to Sabrina Chan as the soldier and Shae-Lynn Beiersdorfer as Clara.

I especially loved the characters in the Land of Enchanted Dreams. Biz MacDonald is the Sugar Plum Fairy, Petra Hohenstein plays Tuffti-Frutti and Bittersweet, Bon-Bon, Butterscotch and Taffy are played in no particular order by Hannah Beatty, Madison Bellini, Elyse Gauthier and Allison Perry.

The rest of the principle characters include J.D. Brousseau as the Snow King and Holly Norman as the Snow Queen; Gordo Smtih and Patrick Langston play the gatekeepers to the Land of Enchanted Dreams; Randy Bellini is the father and the Rat King; and Michelle Neville is the mother.

The mice are played by Dreana Da Costa, Alexis Marshall Simon Trottier, Heather Glenn, Krista Neville, and the snowflakes are played by Kennedy Quaile, Kennedy Mackill, Lindsay Nissen, Skye Gregoire

Special mention as well to Sarah Tomaszewski who opens the play with a marvelous aria.

"The Nutcracker" is being performed in the Richcraft Theatre at the Shenkman Arts Centre on Dec. 2, 3 and 4. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 3 and 4, wirth additional matinee performances at 2;30 p.m. on Dec. 4 and 5.

The Orleans Young Players production of 'The Nutcracker' is being presented at the Shenkman Arts Centre from Dec. 2-4. Fred Sherwin/Photo

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

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