'Nutcracker' gets lift from Entwistle, UW-Green Bay

Jeff Entwistle and crewIf the audience gets caught up in beauty and the age-old storyline of Green Bay’s “Nutcracker Ballet,” that’s just fine for Jeff Entwistle and his theatre students and alumni. His specialized crew is hired each year to do the behind the scenes work for the Northeast Wisconsin Dance Organization’s (NEWDO) version of the classical piece.

When the performance goes with nary a glitch, as it did on the weekend run, Dec. 11-13, at the Meyer Theatre in downtown Green Bay, Entwistle and crew have once again demonstrated the professionalism they are known for.

“I am so proud of the work that my crew completed on this show,” Entwistle said. “It is a great project combining University students with a positive Green Bay Community project.”

A total of 18 UW-Green Bay students (only two are not yet theatre students) and a handful of alumni were involved in this year’s production.

Entwistle says it’s the professionalism of the company that motivates him to take on the project each year. He chooses to work only with dance companies that instill professional practice in their performances.

“… Just a little side note about that professional mindset. Not one of the 60 or more cast members missed the rehearsal last Wednesday at 5 p.m., the day of our monster snowstorm,” he said.

Plenty of planning and preparation, plus three technical and dress rehearsals help them prepare for the show’s opening.

“A designer always has to please a director — in this case UW-Green Bay alumnus, Tim Josephs ’83,” said Entwistle. “He is always pleased with my design work and he is also very happy with the work our student crews do. He knows we approach all of our work with an eye toward sound professional practice. I also have the utmost respect for Tim’s visually stunning choreography, his creativity and his professionalism.”

Do Entwistle-led shows always go on without a hitch? Well, the Friday night had one small glitch when a loading dock door opened and moved a backdrop, making it difficult to move scenery. But no worries, quick work by the pros had it all under control.

“We made some masking adjustments that the audience could not detect and on the very next scene shift all was resolved and the show never stopped and that audience was largely unaware or at the very least not fazed or drawn out of the moment by it,” Entwistle said.

Pictured are, top row, left to right, student Donne Hansen, Entwistle, and Jason Kumpula. Bottom row, left to right, Ivy Worm, Wendy Huber, Erin Torkelson, Jackie Scott. Lying across the laps of the students is UW-Green Bay theatre graduate Jodi Radtke Nord ’93 who works at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts but has been the professional stage manager for (NEWDO) for at least the past four years.