Little Lake County parents are active, mobile and always seeking adventure! Sometimes we even traverse outside of our fair county to find family entertainment beyond our borders. Due to popular reader demand, we introduce “Little McHenry County,” a monthly column dedicated to finding fun with our neighbors to the west, written by McHenry County Moms in the know. Explore and enjoy!
“Shhh, quiet girls!”
“Don’t let the audience see your feet!”
“Hug each other so we can shuffle together to center stage…”
“This is it!”
As the music begins, and we start to walk onto the big stage in the lights, I can feel my friends’ excitement and hear very quiet giggles – we can’t wait to surprise the audience and all run out from under Mother Ginger’s skirt! We are one of the most memorable parts of the Nutcracker; everybody loves the silly Mother Ginger who towers above everyone else, wearing stilts under a big, poofy, and wild dress.
Being a Gingersnap in the Nutcracker is hard work, but it is fun and exciting too. I love being on stage in such an energetic show. Getting the chance to spend extra time with my friends for Saturday rehearsals is great, and I am making new friends every week. Everyone in the ballet had to audition before school even started, so we could start practicing soon after. I was a little nervous to dance in front of the teachers, but it made me feel so happy when I got the part that I really wanted! I hope that every year I get a new part so I can know every single dance in the ballet one day.
My favorite parts of the show are all of the super cool special effects. It’s like watching a really good movie like Frozen, but it’s right in front of you, with real people! Hair Drop-some-fire (mom says it’s actually Herr Drosselmeyer, how boring!) does an awesome magic show, and even though I have watched it so many times, I don’t know how he does those surprising tricks. I love when Clara falls asleep after the party, and then the Christmas tree grows right in front of us. And the snowing and the clouds on the stage are so neat; I didn’t know it could snow inside, and the best part is that it doesn’t even get cold in the theater.
I love dancing with my friends, but I also think it is so cool that there are really, really good dancers who are in the show – with ME! I have only been dancing ballet for five years, since I was two years old, but some of these guys dance every day for their jobs. That’s what I want to be when I grow up too. Eight professional contracted dancers fly from Miami or drive from Chicago to be a part of our show and raise it a notch – or two or three – above the rest. (That’s what my mom said!)
And since I’m a big girl this year in my new role, I can say this now…the mice are SO cute. And they are really funny too. I was a mouse for two years, and they are always the littlest kids in the show, but they work hard and everyone loves how adorable they are. My dad says it is the comic relief to help rile up the little brothers in the audience.
Being in a show like this gives little girls like me the chance to live a dream! We wear beautiful costumes, look out onto a crowd that is smiling and clapping for us, and it helps us learn confidence and pride in what we can accomplish. It is so much fun to actually talk to the stars of the show backstage, too. It’s almost like if I were hanging out backstage with Taylor Swift…almost.
So when there are so many Nutcracker shows at this time of year, why choose this one?
It’s easy, it’s the best! It’s right in downtown Crystal Lake, so your family can make a whole day of it. You can go shopping and then go to my favorite restaurant – Benedict’s – for dinner before or after the show, and even visit Santa while you’re there. And the Raue is the coolest theater in the area; I’ve never seen another ceiling that lights up with stars, except at Epcot. It always looks like nighttime there, even when the sun is shining outside.
Just like Rudolph, Frosty, and the Grinch, our Christmas tradition includes Clara, the Nutcracker, and the Sugar Plum Fairy, too. The familiar music through the whole show makes it impossible not to hum along, and it is something my whole family looks forward to every year. This year my mom had to buy 17 tickets!
After my daddy saw it for the first time, even though he has never been on a stage in his life, even HE wanted to be in the show! So he was, and he is doing it again this year. We get time together practicing, and he has so much fun too. You know when the parents get so involved that a lot of heart is in the performance, which makes everyone feel good about watching. And seeing my daddy wearing makeup makes his and my mommy’s friends laugh. A lot.
December 19, 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
December 20, 3:00 p.m.