Many happy returns for 'Nutcracker'
Ballet is an annual tradition for local families — and one of several chances to get your holiday music fix
It's that time of the year, when a young girl, fairies, armed mice, waltzing flowers, life-sized dolls and of course the nut-cracking prince come to life at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's music will be performed live by the magnificent Sinfonia da Camera. And once again, choreographer Deanna Doty has come up with some new touches for this old classic.
This weekend continues a tradition for the Champaign Urbana Ballet and Krannert with six performances of "The Nutcracker." It's so much a tradition that parents and children alike return to perform each year.
The ballet's Terry Bush notes that there are five Chapman children in this year's show. From the O'Brien dynasty, Maeva dances as the Rose Queen, among other roles, and her mother is the company costumer. There are four Lanneskogs in the performance, not to mention three sets of twins: the Libmans, the Millers and the Hatchers.
Several of the young dancers have about a dozen years of experience each.
Champaign Central student Corbin Phillips, 16, began his dancing career at 4. Centennial's Peyton Herbert, 15, had her first ballet class at 4. And Centennial's Taylor Feddersen became interested in ballet at 2.
Herbert's first ballet as an audience member is the same show she's in this month.
"I sat on the edge of my seat for the entire show, she says. "When it was over, I was the first one to stand up, clapping. I turned to my mom and said, 'I want to do that someday.' The very next year, when I was 5, I auditioned."
Her first role was as a Polichinelle, one of the little ones who dance out from Mother Ginger's 19th-century hoop skirt.
Being a Polichinelle can be dangerous business, Phillips said.
"One of my earliest memories of 'The Nutcracker' happened the second year I was a Polichenelle," he says. "That was the year my foot got run over by the wheels of Mother Ginger's scaffold. While we were being wheeled onto stage under the big dress, my toe was run over by a corner of the frame. I knew I had to keep a happy face and dance, but when we got backstage, I remember thinking 'Ouch!'"
Feddersen, who has friends and family from as far away as Boston come to view her performance, says the experienced cast has a strong bond.
"My favorite thing about 'The Nutcracker' is the people involved," she says. "It's like a family. We have all grown up together, so I am doing what I love with the closest friends I have."
This Champaign Urbana Ballet presentation of "The Nutcracker" is made possible with support of CarX Tire and Auto,Champaign Ballet Academy, Champaign Telephone Company, Christie Clinic Department of Podiatry and Midland States Bank
If you go
What: Champaign-Urbana Ballet's annual "The Nutcracker"
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 7:30 p.m. Friday; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 2 and 6 p.m. Sunday
Where: Tryon Festival Theatre, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
Tickets: $38 adults; $26 students; $18 youths 12 and under (to purchase, call 333-6280 or visit krannertcenter.com)
Other holiday shows
"The Nutcracker" is one of many local holiday musical highlights scheduled for the next few weeks. A sampling of others:
The Tons O' Fun Band and Friends eighth annual Christmas concert: 7 p.m. Friday at the Virginia Theatre, 203 W. Park Ave., C. Tickets are $35 VIP; $15 adult; $10 balcony; $5 children 12 and under.
Champaign Central High School's 33rd annual Madrigal dinner: 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in the school cafeteria. Promised is an evening of festive music, wassail, dinner, kings, queens, boar's heads, jesters, lords and ladies and other trappings of pre-Enlightenment Europe. More information and tickets can be found online at maroons.org/madrigals.
The Other Guys, University of Illinois student a cappella group, annual holiday concert: 7 p.m. Saturday in the Lincoln Hall Theater. The performance will feature 90 minutes of holiday, classic and modern numbers with songs by Justin Timberlake, N'Sync, Michael Buble and Billy Joel, and a collaborative dance number featuring the Illinettes, the UI dance team. General admission tickets are $10 each; tickets for students and children are $6. Tickets will also be sold at otherguys.org/wp/tickets and at the door the evening of the concert.
Parkland Wind Ensemble and the Parkland Concert Band joint concert titled "Wintry Mix": 3 p.m. Sunday at Parkland Theatre. Verlin Richardson conducts the wind ensemble, and Larry Stoner conducts the concert band. Among the musical selections will be Ronald Lo Presti's 1964 "Elegy for a Young American," dedicated to the memory of the late President John F. Kennedy, and "Tattoo" from "La Boheme" by Giacomo Puccini. The event also features familiar holiday tunes such as "White Christmas" by Irving Berlin and Grown-Up Christmas List by David Foster and Linda Thompson-Jenner. Free and open to the public.
G.F. Handel's "Messiah": 6 p.m. Sunday at Canaan Academy, 207 N. Central Ave., U. The free concert features The Canaan Victory Chorale; The Inter-Faith Singers from Champaign County; William Ogg, piano; the Twin City Bible Church orchestra; Urbana High select orchestra and choir members; and soloists Jackline Madegwa and Rebecca Wilson, sopranos, Shandra Summerville, alto, Davion Williams, tenor, and Rick Rhodes, Adam Kosberg and Dae Kwang Kim, basses. A free-will offering will be taken for Canaan Academy's scholarship fund.
Parkland's In Your Ear Big Band winter concert: 7 p.m. Sunday at Parkland Theatre. Director Thomas Wirtel will lead the band in such classic tunes as "Come Fly With Me," "On The Sunny Side Of The Street," "Over The Rainbow" and "Moonlight Serenade," arranged as a samba by Bob Florence. Free and open to the public.
The Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra Season of Joy concert: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12 in the Foellinger Great Hall at Krannert. CUSO and music director/conductor Stephen Alltop will be joined by the Central Illinois Children's Chorus and the singers of the Baroque Artists of Champaign-Urbana, and the evening will feature Johann Sebastian Bach's "Magnificat," Handel's "Hallelujah" chorus, the traditional audience sing-along and holiday favorite carols. Tickets are $35 for adults, $31 for seniors and $5 for students of all ages (call the Krannert ticket office at 333-6280).
The Baroque Artists of Champaign-Urbana and the Central Illinois Children's Chorus Chamber Choir perform Bach's "Magnificat": 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at Holy Cross Catholic Church, 405 W. Clark St., C. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students and may be purchased at baroqueartists.org/tickets.