Chancellor performs as Mother Ginger

 

 

By Vince Dixon

Commemorating its 10th season, the Champaign Urbana Ballet will feature Chancellor Richard Herman in its production of “The Nutcracker.” The chancellor will appear as Mother Ginger in the top of the second act on opening night, Friday.

“As much as I care about the arts and ballet, in particular, I never expected to have the opportunity to join in such an event,” the chancellor said in an e-mail, adding that he would be willing to do a performance like this again depending on specifics. “You will recall that I competed with Mike Ross on Guitar Hero at the opening of the Wall to Wall Guitar Festival.”

The ballet’s producer, Tracy McCabe, asked the chancellor to perform after organizers formed the idea earlier this year.

“He didn’t hesitate in accepting,” McCabe said. “I hope he was complimented in being asked.”

The holiday ballet uses the music of Russian composer Tchaikovsky to depict a young girl’s fantasy of following a toy nutcracker through a magical world of dancing snowflakes, romantic pastries and mischievous mice. In this magical world, the girl also meets Mother Ginger, a giant gingerbread house who keeps gingerbread men hidden within her skirt.

McCabe said that the show will be exciting and special.

“This is an exceptional production of ‘The Nutcracker’ and is something to not be missed,” McCabe said. “The fact that we can celebrate it with Chancellor Herman makes it that much more special.”

A champagne and cake reception will be held after the performance in honor of the 10-year celebration and the chancellor’s presentation. The reception is free to those who attend the ballet and will feature a special toast and surprise wait staff.

This year’s show also marks five years of collaboration between the Champaign Urbana Ballet, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and the University’s chamber orchestra Sinfonia da Camera.

The 50-member Sinfonia orchestra has performed at each Nutcracker performance throughout the collaboration and looks forward to this year’s special addition.

“Richard Herman and his wife are great supporters of Sinfonia and we are looking forward to his performance as Mother Ginger,” said Sinfonia’s assistant director, Rebecca Riley.

Also new to this year’s production are enlarged video projections designed by Andy and David Warfel to enhance battle and snowflake scenes. The projections will display flying cannon balls and falling snowflakes above the dancers creating animated scenery.

The production includes five performances throughout the weekend and tickets are still available for each night. Prices range from $16-$40 with discounts for students. For more information call (217) 333-6280 or visit www.kcpa.uiuc.edu.