By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
For the second & third graders packed into the Bowling Green Performing Arts Center, this is a rock concert. The students from Bowling Green and Otsego were on hand for a preview performance of “The Nutcracker: All Jazzed Up.”
When a red spotlight wandered over the crowd as they waited, the youngsters whooped. When the lights dimmed they erupted. When the hall went black, they roared. Then as the electronic dance beat burst from the speakers they settled in ready to be entertained. And the young entertainers from Julie’s Dance Studio were ready to oblige. The studio presented a shortened version of the show that featured the action in the first half with Mother Ginger in the person of Superintendent Francis Scruci making her appearance at the end. The show choreographed by Julie Setzer and directed by Drake Doren, opens tonight (Dec. 15) at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center, and continues with performances Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Click for ticket information. The Jazzed Up in the title doesn’t capture the half of it, as the studio’s dancers showcase their best steps to disco, electro beats, swing, and even a section of the original score. The show doesn’t restrict itself only to the music from Tchaikovsky’s score. There were interjections of “Jingle Bells” and a version of Pachelbel’s Canon with children’s voices layered on top. (The arrangements and lyrics are credited to Busy McCarroll and Jeff Nelson.)
We start with the scene of a Christmas Eve party. Uncle Drosselmyer (Tim Barker) shows up with the best gifts including the Nutcracker of the title. Claire (a role shared by Elle Ross and Krista Evans) loves the toy. She dances around with the Nutcracker as her brother (Christopher Marovich) and cousin (Caleb Hemming) keep making forays to snatch it away. The uncle is quite protective of the toy, and scolds the boys to no avail. The Nutcracker is broken, as is Claire’s heart. At the stroke of midnight, she rouses to find her living room transformed. The tree has expanded and a Christmas fantasy scene unfolds. We get tap dancing mice, dancing ornaments, swinging bells, and gingerbread cookies all come to life. Overcome by swirling spirits (Stephanie Bell and Krista Evans) Claire collapses only to wake to an invasion of mice, followed by a troop of toy soldiers. They are the cutest adversaries imaginable. The Nutcracker (Tim Barker) and Mouse Queen (role shared by Riley Rader and Ellie Knape) face off. Just as the Nutcracker seems to be vanquished, Claire clocks the queen and wins the day. Though the featured dances that highlight the second half trip to the Land of Sweets weren’t performed, the audience got a taste of what they had to offer during the curtain call as the dancers appeared and did a few steps. The troupe presented enough to send the second and third graders off with a host of Christmas images dancing in their head, and maybe imagining themselves up there with Mother Ginger.