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Twice the Story, Double the Fun: Springfield Ballet's Spring Double Bill

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(Poster design courtesy Springfield Ballet)
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Twice the story--double the fun. Springfield Ballet presents "A Tale of Two Wolves," featuring a double bill of "Peter & the Wolf" and "Little Red Riding Hood,” individually choreographed for Springfield Ballet’s dancers, April 13-15 at the Landers Theatre.

The production offers what Springfield Ballet Associate Artistic Director Brian Norris believes is a first—possibly anywhere. “It’s something that’s never been done before. No one’s ever taken ‘Peter and the Wolf’ and ‘Red Riding Hood’ and put them together in one night.” He says when ballet companies or schools undertake a dance version of “Red Riding Hood,” it’s usually incorporated into act III of “Sleeping Beauty.”  “So this is something completely new, completely original.”

“Red Riding Hood” forms the second half of the show.  The opening half is the familiar “Peter and the Wolf” with score by Sergei Prokofiev, as choreographed by Springfield Ballet’s Artistic and School Director Ashley Paige Romines.  And Brian Norris decided to use music by Prokofiev for “Red Riding Hood” as well, as part of a plan to “structure it like ‘Peter and the Wolf,’ because ‘Peter’ has a narrator and I thought we should have a narrator for ‘Red Riding Hood.’  Since ‘Peter’ has a male narrator, I thought we should have a female narrator for ‘Red Riding Hood.’”

Brian Norris himself wrote the narration for it, and serving as narrator will be Springfield native, actress/singer Kim Crosby. (She notes, with some relief, that she’s NOT being asked to dance in the production—though, as she jokes, “I’d pay to see that!”)  Norris says Crosby was the first and “only” person he considered as “Red’s” narrator, being one of her big longtime fans. “I saw Kim perform ‘Into the Woods’ seven times on Broadway in New York,” he says.

Kim Crosby feels sure her late mother, Donna Crosby, “would have been very happy that I would be involved in the Ballet, especially as she was one of the founding directors and a huge supporter of the Ballet since its inception.

Keeping things in the “family,” so to speak, the narrator for “Peter and the Wolf” is Rick Geising, who plays the Father in the annual Springfield Ballet production of “The Nutcracker.”

The entire show employs somewhere between 70 and 100 dancers.  Since “Red Riding Hood” is normally a two-character story, Brian Norris tried to keep his cast “downsized.” But he does manage to fill the stage with, among others, some of Red’s friends along with various forest creatures, dancing flowers, the Wolf’s henchmen, and so on.

Performances of “A Tale of Two Wolves” will be Friday, April 13 at 7:30pm; Saturday the 14th at 11:00am and 4:00pm; and Sunday April 15 at 2:00pm, in the Landers Theatre, 311 E. Walnut.  Tickets range from $13 to $22.  In addition, the Ballet is sponsoring a hygiene-product drive to benefit Care to Learn, so audience members are asked to bring new toiletries to drop off in a bin located in the Landers Theatre lobby.

For tickets call the Landers Box Office at 869-1334; for information visit www.springfieldballet.org.

Randy Stewart joined the full-time KSMU staff in June 1978 after working part-time as a student announcer/producer for two years. His job has evolved from Music Director in the early days to encompassing production of a wide range of arts-related programming and features for KSMU, including the online and Friday morning Arts News. Stewart assists volunteer producers John Darkhorse (Route 66 Blues Express), Lee Worman (The Gold Ring), and Emily Higgins (The Mulberry Tree) with the production of their programs. He's also become the de facto "Voice of KSMU" in recent years due to the many hours per day he’s heard doing local station breaks. Stewart’s record of service on behalf of the Springfield arts community earned him the Springfield Regional Arts Council's Ozzie Award in 2006.