Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Nutcracker

Christmas Eve brings excitement to children of all ages.
Hosting the annual party is Clara's family in their lavish home.
Clara's little brother, Fritz, catches a mouse.   Naturally, his first thought is to tease his sister with it.  Who wants a terrified mouse being held by its tail?
Fortunately, their Uncle Dosselmeyer is attending bring a trumpet for Fritz and a very special gift for Clara, a decorative nutcracker in the large shape of a toy soldier.
Being a typical little brother, Fritz breaks it.
This is how The Nutcracker, a story told with no spoken words, begins.   A gorgeously entrancing ballet presented by Ballet Nebraska whose name next year will be American Midwest Ballet.
It is hypnotic for everyone of all ages.  The proof was a two-year-old little boy sitting near me.  He was completely mesmerized.  Strangely, I saw no one leaving the theater to go to the lobby.   No one.
The audience was completely fascinated by this ballet performance.
The timing is perfect.  The show lasts about ninety minutes with an additional twenty minute intermission.
The costumes are radiant, each one intricately individual for each person.    Deborah Overturff and Thom Peterson are brilliant in making beautiful and moveable costumes complimenting each person. The sets and props are magnificently colorful.   I was amazed at the backstage crew who are responsible for everything on stage except for the actual dancing.  These unseen diligent and attentive crew members, director, production and stage managers, lighting and sound managers, wardrobe mangers, chaperones, and even the members of the Opera Omaha Children's Chorus and director are phenomenal.
Numerous performers left me with memories of their spellbinding performances.  Tianna Hartin-Kovy was a wonderful Clara.   Fritz was played by an adorable Owen Fuesel.   Their parents portrayed by Bret Samson and Sasha York were absolutely gracefully gorgeous.
Personally, I adore both the choreography and performances by both Matthew Carter and Erika Overturff.   These two epitomize gracefulness and the essence of ballet.  They are masterful with dance.
The entire dance company is phenomenal.   I so admire the strength and grace of the male performances who are constantly catching people in their arms so effortlessly while maintaining their balance and being part of their dance.  The numerous dancers who created each character as an individual while still matching each step of the group.
Who did I enjoy the most?
Clara, Fritz, the society dog guest star from the Nebraska Humane Society, Drosselmeyer by Matthew Carter, the Ballet Doll and the Jack-in the-Box by Katherine Eppink and Alexandra Hoffman, the Rat Queen by Claire Goodwillie who happened to be the best I have ever seen in this role, The Snow Queen by Erika Overturff, The Snow King by Sasha York, The Sugar Plum Fairy by Erin Alarcon,  and The Cavalier by Ryan Christopher all made the show appear magical.  To appear to move on air or to fly in a dream, every performer added to this wonderful production.
What is special about the Ballet Nebraska performance?    Why not go to any Nutcracker performance?
First, the integration of the ballet students within the performance.    These students are so well taught, it is often difficult to realize that they are not professionals.   Secondly, Ballet Nebraska presents one of the colorfully beautiful presentations of any production.   Lastly, the production is intoxicatingly enticing, without the alcohol.
Additional performances will be December 2nd and 3rd at the Orpheum Theater in Omaha.
For a memorable and enthralling experience, see Ballet Nebraska's The Nutcracker.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

All My Sons

Imagine yourself as living in America in 1947.   As a young woman, what would you do if you were in love with the son of your father’s business partner?  This seems fairly simplistic, but there are a few complications.
The son was you have loved for years was a pilot, fighting in World War II, somewhere near or in China.
Now, he has been missing for three years.
His mother seems to be the only one who truly believes that he is still alive, somewhere.   She did allow a memorial for him, an apple tree planted in their yard.
Will he return?
Ann, the girlfriend, is moving on with her life.  She is in love with the missing man’s brother, Chris.  Fortunately, he also loves her.
Will they marry?   Can the family accept Ann into the family if she marries Chris?  Will the family accept the changes soon to happen in their lives or remained locked in the world of 1944?
Added to this is a problem from the past.   The business partnership was responsible for the mass production of airplane parts for the war, but something went wrong, terribly wrong causing the deaths of at least twenty-one pilots.
All of this is woven into the story of All My Sons, a Tony Award winning play from 1947 by Arthur Miller.
The play begins with a summer storm breaking an apple tree in the backyard.  The tree is the memorial to Larry Keller, the missing son.
That is the one small change seems to be the catalyst for changes for everyone.
In the Keller family, Joe, the father, is portrayed by Tim Daugherty.   He is the center of this family and play with everyone seeming to rotate around him.   He is masterful and exemplary in this role. Between keeping life simplistic for his wife and attempting to control the rest of the family, he is constantly trying to place people in their proper places, according strictly to his perspectives.
Kate Keller is played by Debbie Bertlesen and Chris by Will Muller.  Both roles are brilliant in revealing the hidden problems of the past affecting their present and future.
In the Deever family, Geana Krajicek plays Ann and Adam Haverman is her brother, George.   Both realize life is unpredictable and are great in attempting to move on and seeking justice as well as love in a cruel world.
Also, the neighbor’s child, Jabe Rounds is great in the role of Bert, learning the role of neighborhood policing by his boss, Joe Keller.   At least in playing, this continues to demonstrate Joe’s need of controlling those around him.
Dr. Jim Baylis is played by Stan Tracy and his wife, Sue, by Rita McKinney.  Frank and Lydia Lubey are played by Conner Mowery and Abigail J. Stoscher.  Each of these characters is great in these roles.
No play is successful without a magnificent “behind the scenes” crew.  Bob Putman is the theater director with Ron Hines directs the show and Tyler Orvis being the producer.
Responsible for the lighting are Darrin Golden and Sam Neff while Dave Podendorf and Jaycee Wetenkamp cover the sound.  With both the designing and building the sets are Bob Putman, Tyler Orvis and Denise Putman.
Rhonda Hall takes care of the props, Dave Podendorf is the stage manager, and Dwayne Ibsen is responsible for the costumes.
The timing for the play is 2 hours and 15 minutes including a fifteen minute intermission after the first act, approximately an hour into the play.  All My Sons is an intense show.
This production of All My Sons continues through this weekend with shows at 7 pm on Friday and Saturday nights and at 2 pm on Sunday.  Costs for tickets is $20 for each adult, $16 for seniors, and $10 for students.   This is a play that a high school student could learn many life lessons, but not likely to be understood by those younger.
To purchase tickets, contact the Chanticleer Box Hours between 9 and noon, call the theater at 712-323–9955 or at chanticleertheater@gmail.com.   The theater is located at. 830 Franklin Ave. in Council Bluffs.
Even though set in the postwar 1940s, the underlying issues of justice, ambition, patriotism, integrity, home, capitalism, and even love have a relevance in even 2017.
I am in awe of this cast and crew who emotionally repeatedly tell the story for everyone.
Every adult needs to see this production of All My Sons to better understand people and even to question a little of your own morals and values.