A trio of December delights at Memorial Auditorium
WORTHINGTON — Whether or not there’ll be 12 drummers drumming or 10 lords a-leaping in the three shows scheduled at Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center during December, attendees are guaranteed a broad spectrum of first-class holiday entertainment.
This holly jolly trio of fine arts performances starts with “Rhythmic Circus: Holiday Shuffle” on Dec. 8, continues with the Continental Ballet Company’s “The Nutcracker” on Dec. 16 and wraps up with “Comedy and Magic” on New Year’s Eve.
Tickets for all three shows are available at the MAPAC box office, 714 13th St., from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays, by calling 376-9101 or visiting friendsoftheauditorium.com. Keep in mind there are price discounts for advance ticket purchases of certain shows.Rhythmic Circus: Holiday Shuffle7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8
Four dancers plus seven musicians equal an entertainment spectacle that’s bound to astound and impress.
“This is an outstanding show — appropriate for the whole family, full of holiday music — with performers who have toured worldwide and played on Broadway,” said Tammy Makram, MAPAC’s managing director.
“You can’t believe what you’re seeing because these entertainers burst with charisma and energy,” she added. “When I saw them once before, the audience gave three standing ovations in the midst of the show.”
Since 2008, Rhythmic Circus has performed in over 250 cities around the world, including at premier venues such as the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
They’ve been described as a blend of Riverdance, Blue Man Group and Stomp, and fans of the NBC TV show “America’s Got Talent” might recall their successful 2015 appearance. (In fact, Rhythmic Circus received four “thumbs up” from the judges but declined the chance to continue in the competition.)
This percussive dance and music ensemble, headquartered in Minneapolis, has garnered rave reviews from the likes of the New York Times (“fast, furious footwork”) and the New York Post (“family-friendly tap…extraordinary fun”).
“You just want to jump up and cheer for them,” said Makram. “Having them here is an incredible opportunity for this region.”The Continental Ballet Company’s “The Nutcracker”3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16
Professional ballet corps don’t stop in Worthington on a regular basis — and when the classic “The Nutcracker,” with the music of Tchaikovsky, is on the program, it’s a don’t-miss deal.
“When we first started out, our company didn’t have a home theater,” said Genevieve Spooner, assistant director for The Continental Ballet Company of Bloomington, which is marking its 30th anniversary in 2018.
That necessitated them renting various Twin Cities theaters for productions, and thus taking their shows on the road to smaller towns in Greater Minnesota was common.
“Now we have a home theater, but we found we missed touring so we purposely create a touring schedule in the fall and winter to visit communities at some distance from the Twin Cities that don’t have easy access to see ballet,” Spooner explained.
Director Riet Velthuisen, a native of Holland who danced with the Dutch National Ballet and other European ballet companies earlier in her career, has put a subtle creative stamp on this “Nutcracker.”
“Riet always makes a few light changes to keep it fresh for the dancers and the audience,” said Spooner. “She doesn’t like violence, so rather than a battle with the Rats, Clara has more of a friendly exchange with them.
“This is a non-violent Nutcracker.”
And the Rat scene will be notable, too, for the presence in it of up to 10 local young students from Kay Williams Prunty’s The Dance Academy.
“There will be an audition process among my students,” said Prunty, adding that selection will be guided by requirements from the Continental Ballet staff.
“It’s so important for these kids to have this chance to see professional dancers in action — how they warm up and go through their pre-show routine, seeing that the things we do at the barre are the same things the pros do — because it really solidifies the importance of our training,” Prunty added.
Spooner agrees with Prunty about the value of involving young dancers as their company tours.
“All of our dancers were young dance students themselves at one time who are now professionals, so this gives [the youths] a chance to see what dancers can do with their skills as they advance,” said Spooner.
Prunty hopes her dance students, as well as everyone else, will take advantage of the Continental Dance Company’s presence in Worthington to see “The Nutcracker.”
“’The Nutcracker’ is timeless,” said Prunty. “All dancers, and anyone who appreciates dance as an art form, should attend.
“It’s amazing for them to bring an outstanding professional production to a smaller town for a reasonable price.”
Concurred Spooner, “We’re really committed to sharing the classics with families throughout the state, and we’re very thankful that Memorial Auditorium is bringing us to Worthington.
“They love to have us, and it’s rewarding for our dancers, too.”New Year’s Eve: Comedy and Magic with DeBoer and Harris7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31
Two award-winning comedians — John DeBoer and David Harris — will be in town to help close out 2018 with laughter.
“They’ve both been featured on ‘Comedy Central’ and ‘Last Comic Standing,’” mentioned Makram. “And one of them happens to be a magician as well as a comedian.”
With some PG-13 humor, this presentation is tailored for a slightly more mature audience.
“They’re clean comedians, but their style is more in the PG-13 range,” said Makram.
Harris is a two-time Regional Emmy award winner, and also won the title of “Minnesota’s Funniest Person” in 2017 following a competition with 50 other comedians at Joke Joint’s Comedy Club of St. Paul.
“This promises to be a fun and entertaining evening,” said Makram. “It should be a perfect night out for adults; if you want to ring in the new year with a bunch of laughs, this is the place to do it.”