TELLURIDE – No offense to The Nutcracker die-hards and aficionados among us, but there’s a new holiday show in town that dance and theater fans aren’t going to want to miss.
Telluride’s new Ames Conservatory, which recently took over the faculty, student body, education and performance commitments of the former Telluride Dance Academy, puts on an exciting holiday performance of The Polar Express, at the Michael D. Palm Theatre, this Friday, Dec. 10 through Sunday, Dec. 12.
“This production is much bigger than what we’ve ever done for Nutcracker,” said Ames Conservatory Artistic Director and former TDA head Valerie Madonia, of the break from a well-trod tradition.
The story tracks the adventures of a young boy having a hard time believing in Santa Claus as he joins a group of other children on a wild train ride to the North Pole in what is ultimately a journey of self-discovery.
To the delight of musical theater fans the Ames Conservatory production will feature special guest singer Ted Keegan, who starred in the National Tour of The Phantom of the Opera following a successful run in the Broadway production. Locals will also appreciate the return of one of their own to Telluride, Paul Distefano, from his pre-professional training at the Joffrey Ballet School.
Distefano will partner 17-year-old Katy Bowlby of Durango, another pre-professional dancer who attended the Joffrey Ballet School last summer and has plans to audition for companies this summer, in the program’s pas de deux.
The performance is approximately one hour and 45 minutes long including a 15-minute intermission.
Zachary Prentice, a member of the Ballet West Academy Professional Trainee Division and a former member of the Houston Ballet’s second company, Houston Ballet II, will dance the role of the train’s Conductor. The train, incidentally, is being built by local actor and set designer Buff Hooper.
Madonia said the production is based on one done by the pre-professional Louisiana Delta Ballet, which has provided the Ames Conservatory with the rights to its ballet and is also lending the fledgling organization some costumes to augment its existing, TDA Nutcracker reserve.
“It’s sweet and fun,” said Madonia. “I think it’s a good vehicle for kids to perform in.”
In collaboration with the event several local restaurants will offer after-performance dining specials for tickets holders. They include a $25 prix fixe menu at Rustico’s and half-priced appetizers at Honga’s. La Marmotte will also donate a portion the proceeds from meals there to the Just For Kids Foundation.
Those wishing to further support the new program and its efforts to develop the performing arts in Telluride are invited to a closing night gala dinner at La Piazza del Villaggio Ristorante in Mountain Village at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 12.
A limited number of tickets for the adults-only cocktail reception and dinner featuring a special performance by Ted Keegan are available by advanced reservation only for $125 per person.
To reserve a seat please contact Sara Karimi at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, the names of your guests, and a telephone number where you may be reached.
The Dance Academy at Ames Conservatory presents The Polar Express at the Michael D. Palm Theatre on Friday, Dec. 10 and Saturday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m,. and on Sunday, Dec. 12 at 3 p.m. Tickets range from $25-$35 and are available by calling 728.9065 or by visiting www.theamesconservatory.com.