Sunday, December 12, 2010


       Stephanie Foraker Pitts and David Barocio appear as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier
       in this year's The Nutcracker presented by the Oklahoma City Ballet through December 19th.


By Nancy Condit

The Oklahoma City Ballet, under the direction of artistic director Robert Mills, opened its annual enjoyable offering of The Nutcracker last Friday night, December 12th, at the Civic Center.  Choreography for The Nutcracker was also by Mills, after the original choreography by Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa.  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s iconic music was live, by the Oklahoma City Philharmonic with Joel Levin conducting.  It continues its run through next Sunday afternoon, with performances at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, the 17th and 18th, and matinees at on Saturdays and Sundays, December 18th and 19th.

The highlight of the ballet continues to be the winter wonderland, with its set forming a perfect backdrop for the dance by Ronnie Underwood as the Snow King and Miki Kawamura as the Snow Queen, and the Snowflakes.  Underwood was secure in a role that required many classical lifts of his partner to his shoulder and above his head, as was Kawamura. A note, seeing the Snow Queen carried on the Snow King’s shoulder above the heads of the row of snowflakes at the dance’s end is technically demanding, but also very funny.

Skylar Singer performed 12-year-old Clara for the second year, in a rotating role with Roma Catania.  Ms. Singer showed good presence and danced well.  Her brother Fritz was well danced by Courtney Thompson. The 100 children from central Oklahoma performed well.

Bob Windsor was enjoyable as the toymaker Drosselmyer.

Stephanie Foraker Pitts danced a precise, poised Sugar Plum Fairy.  David Barocio danced her cavalier.  Foraker Pitts’ life size Kissy Doll performance of a wind-up toy that comes to mechanical stops left her costume’s tutu still bouncing.  The mice, led by Jerry Pines, were so childishly obnoxious that the toy soldiers just had to shoot them with toy guns.  Michael Villella danced the Nutcracker Prince.

Tye Love, Emily Fine and Samantha Kropp were spirited and enjoyable as the Spanish Chocolate dancers.  Darli Iakovleva’s performance of Arabian Coffee was good -- one of attitude rather than sinuousness, and her partner, Anton Iakovlev was solid.

Callye McCollum was very good as the Marzipan soloist.

Audrey Johnson danced a delicate, physically free Dew Drop Fairy, partly because of the choreography and costume in comparison to the Flowers. Her moves were curved and angled, compared to the Flowers, which moved as one, with straight legs and arms.  Her costume continues to be effective.  It was a blue white silk-like light material that moved with Johnston’s slightest step, compared to the heavier net waltz-length light maroon tutus of the Flowers.

The one choreographic misstep of the ballet was the Nutcracker’s dishonorably stabbing the Mouse King in the back.

Only in a seasonal dream could the second act set be called anything but garish, especially its backdrop of rays of bright pink and red.  However, Dale Hall’s set for the Snow Queen and Snow Queen continued breathtakingly lovely, with the transition from a turn of the end of the 19th century home to the snow wonderland with clear light aqua blue chiffon-like curtains.

Two rich red women’s turn of the century dresses lit up the party at the Drosselmyers’ home. Costumes were by Michael Jones, Adrian Thompson, Susanne Hobbs, and Marcud Ford.

For more information on tickets, visit or call 405.843.TOES (8637).

                 Mary Reynolds, Louise Goldbery and The Sisters of Swing recently presented a benefit
                 concert at St. John's Episcopal church for the Guild of St. George pantry.

By Nancy Condit

Mary Reynolds and The Sisters of Swing performed an NPR revue style benefit that rocked the hall of St. John’s Episcopal Church last Saturday night, December 11.  It benefited the Guild of St. George, formed by the Episcopalian Church as a food panty to break the back of hunger.

“We perform vocal jazz that covers ten centuries,” said Reynolds, during a break when The Sisters of Swing and the a cappella group The Backdoor took a break from dancing around their microphones while they sang.

The music with Reynolds and Louise Goldberg and the two groups is impeccable.  Reynolds is particularly notable for her clear, pure voice.

Their selections ranged from the very early “Fum, Fum, Fum,” to “I Want a Hippotamus for Christmas,” to a sendup of the B.C. Clark Christmas song to a lot of rockin’.  The Bennetts were late, so the group played “The Merry Christmas Polka” again, while the Bennett’s were invited, i.e. embarrassed. into dancing.  They were pretty good. 

With plastic Christmas trees that came in a box ready to assemble festooned with electric lights as a set, and a singer and volunteer child with handmade hippopotamus masks passing out small pieces of candy, it was a high brow evening.

To contact or book The Sisters of Swing, call Mary Reynolds at 204.4884.  To contact or book The BackRow email

c. 2010 Nancy Condit


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