WESTERN SAN JUANS – The snow is falling, the holidays are finally here, and Western Slope residents have will have more than enough opportunity get into the spirit as two performing arts groups bring The Nutcracker and other festive, seasonal entertainment to stages around the region next weekend, promising delight for audiences of all ages.
The Western Slope Concert Series will present a family-friendly show featuring professional dancers, musicians and singers during three upcoming performances of “Make the Season Bright” in Grand Junction, Telluride and Montrose, also Dec. 3-5. The shows are approximately two hours long with one 20-minute intermission.
A 13-piece orchestra of professional musicians from across the country (positioned onstage for full audience enjoyment) will perform holiday favorites like “Deck the Halls,” “O Holy Night,” and “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” as well as popular Celtic Christmas tunes with guest singer Katie Johnson.
Johnson frequently performs regionally as a guest artist and soloist for groups including the Western Colorado Choral, High Desert Opera and the Messiah Choral Society.
“She is a wonderful, classically trained singer but she also does crossover,” into a more popular style, said series director, Tyme Mientka, who does double duty in the orchestra on cello.
In addition to accompanying Johnson, the orchestra will play its own features and accompany two exciting, professional dancers from New York City, Rachel Hamrick and Shane Ohmer, as they perform excerpts from The Nutcracker including the second act Grand Pas de Deux between the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier, and the Spanish Chocolates and Arabian Coffee divertissements.
A non-profit organization entering its 12th season, the Western Slope Concert Series produces five shows a year ranging from chamber music performances to holiday extravaganzas that tour the Western Slope.
“This is more of a Broadway variety show,” said Mientka, describing the evening as a “big, polished production,” with a variety of costume and lighting changes at the end of which Santa Claus will invite children onto the stage to hear all their holiday wishes.
“If people want to see the ‘wow’ show, this is it,” he said.
The Western Slope Concert Series presents “Make the Season Bright” on Friday Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m. at the Avalon Theater in Grand Junction; Saturday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. at the Michael D. Palm Theater in Telluride; and on Sunday, Dec. 5, at 4 p.m. at the Montrose Pavilion. Tickets are available online at www.JunctionConcerts.com or at Roper Music in Grand Junction, Paonia Farm & Home, the Montrose Pavilion, and the Palm Theater in Telluride. Prices range from $26-$36 in advance and $29-$39 at the door for adults and $16-$26 for children 12 and under in advance or at the door. All seats are reserved. Call 970/241-0741 for more information.
At the other end of the holiday show spectrum, using homegrown talent, Weehawken Dance presents The Nutcracker at the Wright Opera House in Ouray, Dec. 3-5.
A true “community event” made possible with the participation of more than 100 people from Ouray, Ridgway and Montrose under the guidance of Weehawken Dance artistic director Natasha Pyeatte, the show stays true to the classic story of Clara and her Nutcracker Prince as they battle the evil Mouse King, travel through the Land of the Snow, and are eventually celebrated by the Sugar Plum Fairy and her subjects in the Land of the Sweets.
Amanda Ludian of Montrose dances the role of Clara joined by the Nutcracker Prince, Morgan Wright, of Ridgway. As the regal Snow Queen, Ludian’s older sister, Alexandria, entertains the duo with her Snow King, Patrick Link, of Ouray. They are greeted by Marialexa Kavanaugh and Albert Evarts, both from Ridgway, as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier during the second act festivities.
While the soloist and principal roles stick to their classical ballet roots, audiences will have an opportunity to admire the work of the school’s jazz, tap, modern and hip hop classes (expect a cast ranging from toddlers to grandparents) as they showcase their hard work from the fall semester in the Arabian, Spanish, Marzipan, Russian and Chinese dances.
Also performing in the second act are Ridgway’s Lacey Daley as the Dewdrop Fairy and Tara Richard, of Montrose, as Sunshine. And keep an eye out for tiny elves and bakers.
“It’s pretty much all local people,” said Pyeatte.
Tied to the Saturday evening performance is a special event and fundraiser for Weehawken Dance at Venue Roscoe Fox. Participants will enjoy prime, reserved seats for the performance as well as hors d’oeuvres and libations. There will also be a short live auction.
Weehawken Dance’s The Nutcracker plays on Friday, Dec. 3 and Saturday, Dec. 4 at 6 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 5 at 2 p.m. at Ouray’s Wright Opera House. Prices are: $6, children under 10; adults, $12 (WCA members) and $13 (non-members); and $10, senior citizens, Sunday matinee only. Reserved and special event tickets range from $18 to $35.
Reserved seats and member rates are available only through Weehawken Creative Arts directly at 970/318-0150 or www.weehawkenarts.org. All other tickets are on sale now at Khristopher’s Culinaire, Buckskin Booksellers and Mouse’s Chocolates in Ouray, at Cimarron Books and Coffee in Ridgway, and online at www.weehawkenarts.org.