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(Posted 12:30 p.m., Nov. 29)
Classic holiday production a treat for all ages
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Marie is thrilled when she sees her Christmas gift which she names Clara in the Orleans Young Players Theatre School production of 'The Nutcracker'. Fred Sherwin/Photo

On a weekend filled with plenty to see and do to get you in the holiday spirit, none is more guaranteed to put a smile on your face than the Orleans Young Players Theatre School production of "The Nutcracker".

Featuring a highly talented lead cast and a collection of the cutest little mice and sugar plum fairies you will ever see, the OYPTS production is one of those must see events during every holiday season.

By now most people are familiar with the tale about the nutcracker, the toy soldier and the ballerina who come to life in a young girl's dream about the Suigar Plum Fairy and the Land of Sweets.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the story, Marie and her younger brother Fritz are visited on Christmas Eve by their Uncle Drosselmeyer who is a magician and talented toymaker.

He gives each of them a toy; a ballerina for Marie, and a toy soldier for Fritz. He then gives them a third present, a handsome nutcracker, which the two children fight over.

Later the same night, after everyone else has gone to bed, Marie sneaks into the parlour to check on the nutcraker which she has taken a liking to. The room is immediately filled with mice and the Christmas tree grows until it dwarfs Marie. The ballerina, the toy soldier and the nutcracker then come to life and a battle ensues between the mice, led by the Mouse King, and the toy soldier and the nutcracker.

Just when it appears the Mouse King has gained the upperhand, Marie causes a distraction by throwing her slipper at him allowing the nutcracker to kill him. As the mice retreat, the nutcracker turns into a handsome prince and brings Marie and the other characters to his kingdom in the Land of Sweets.

On the way they are visited by dancing snowflakes and the North Wind. Before long they arrive at the Land of Sweets where they are greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy who has been ruling the kingdom in the Prince's absence.

To celebrate the Prince's return a massive party is held with sweets aplenty. As the party concludes, the audience is transported back to the original parlour where Marie is found sleeping with the nutcraker in her arms and the ballerina and toy soldier close by her side. When she awakes she tells them about her dream and they all share a good laugh.

In the OYP's all ages adaptation of "The Nutcracker", Uncle Drosselmeyer is actually Auntie Drosseleyer; Marie throws her doll Gertrude instead of her slipper at the Mice Queens who are defeated without being killed; and Land of Sweets is inhabited by several endearing characters including Tooti-Frutti, Bonbon, Taffy and Butterscotch.

The production including all of the performances are top notch. In particular, Sylvia Glenn is superb as Frau Drosselmeyer and Karen Bolt is wonderful as the Sugar Plum Fairy, but the real stars of the play in my humble opinion are Lauren Jane Hudson and David Corrigan as Marie and Fritz. Corrigan also does double duty as a fiddler.

The rest of the lead cast is rounded out by Sara Remillard and Sebastien Melbourne as the mother and father; Jarrad Haas as the toy soldier; Henry Wells as the Nutcracker/ Prince; Audrey Matheson as Clara the doll; Danielle Pabstel as Bittersweet the Gatekeeper; Heather Glenn and Michaela Yu as Butterscotch and Taffy; Charity Wessel and Sydney Maloney as Tutti-Frutti and Bob Bon; and Faith Girvan and Steve Ryan as Minstrel and Maestro Sweet.

The Orleans Young Players Theatre School production of "The Nutcracker" can be seen in the Richcraft Theatre at the Skenkman Arts Centre this Saturday and Sunday. Curtain time both days is 2:30 p.m. Tickets available at the door.

Marie wakes up from her dream as her mother and father, Frau Drossekmyer and her brother Fritz look on in the Orleans Young Players Theatre School production of 'The Nutcracker'. Fred Sherwin/Photo

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

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