Theater performances add spirit to holiday season

Patty Clark

This winter has a wide range of productions to offer the ISU and Ames community to get everyone into the holiday spirit.

There are many productions going on at Stephens Auditorium, such as Mercy Me, “The Nutcracker,” the Osmond Brothers and Mannheim Steamroller. Across from Stephens, in Fisher Theater, ISU Theatre is putting on a production of “A Christmas Carol.”

The Stephens performance of “The  Nutcracker” will be the show’s 31st year running. Originally composed by Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsy, the ballet tells the story of a young girl who receives a nutcracker from her grandfather. Late at night on Christmas Eve, the nutcracker comes alive and the girl dances with him and enjoys a magical place with wonder, sugar plum fairies and other fantasies. But this girl soon struggles between growing up and wanting to stay in this fantasy world and remain young forever.

Ellen Mullen and Janice Baker are just two of the many dancers involved with this production.

Ellen Mullen, lecturer of management, has been dancing mainly ballet since she was 3 years old. She started helping with “The Nutcracker” for the first few years and has recently returned to participate again. This year, her duties consist of doing the warm-up classes, and she assists the directors by helping to coordinate the cast, because most actors play more than one character.

Mullen said the performance is an Iowa State Center tradition and that it continues to bring audiences back every year.

“The audience grows and changes, but also all the people who have been going for years keep coming back every year to enjoy it,” Mullen said.

Baker, assistant professor of dance, has been working at the university for 30 years and she was in the first production of “The Nutcracker” when Iowa Public Broadcasting first recorded it for television. She said she enjoys the cast and there are a wide range of abilities within the cast.

Baker’s part in this year’s production is setting the tone for the rest of the story. She helps out with larger scenes in Act I, including a party scene, and works with the children in the production. She described the experience as being “magnetic” because there are performers who will come back from far away places just to do this production.

“It’s like a huge family that just happens to be putting on a show,” Baker said. 

Baker said the story of “The Nutcracker” is timeless and she is proud to be a part of “something that offers a good product” to the Ames and ISU community. 

“The Nutcracker” will be performed at Stephens Auditorium at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10 and at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 11. Ticket price is $20 and $18 for reserved.