Until last night, I had no clue that ballerinas put a mixture of Baby Orajel and Preparation H on their sore toes before dancing. My wife picked up that tidbit in a backstage conversation with the mother of a dancer in the Oak Ridge Civic Ballet Association production of “The Ugly Duckling” and “Masquerade.”
It was moments after the curtain closed last November on “The Nutcracker” when my friend Heather Tang enlisted me to be the narrator for “The Ugly Duckling.” The adaptation of the famous fable was paired with a ballet called “Masquerade.” They had a matinee and an evening performance yesterday. Kylee Haskell and Julianna Romanoski, the same two girls who alternated the role of Clara in “The Nutcracker,” alternated the role of the Ugly Duckling between the two shows.
Sharon Nicklow-Cousins directed the ballet from a script by ORCBA’s Brian Quist and Glenn Arnold. Heather and Sharon gave me free reign to interpret the script as I liked. I only changed a few words here and there. My main contribution was to give the Old Duck a voice that was supposed to sound like Julia Child but came out sounding like a Monty Python character. When the Ugly Duckling encounters other animals after fleeing from the farm, I gave a ridiculous French accent to the leader of a flock of wild ducks. At one point during the evening performance, I may have referred to some farmyard chickens as “Angry Birds.” I got the idea from seeing some kids playing the popular game on their iPad between shows.
All of the folks at ORCBA were remarkably kind and gracious to me. They put my name in the logo on the t-shirt and on the cover of the program. They put my photo and bio inside the program as well. I had to smile when I realized that most of the bio came from my Wikipedia entry.
Donna Jett, the mother of ballerina Sarah Jett, sent me several of her photos from the evening performance for use in this blog post. Sarah and Jenny Collins alternated the roles of the Lark and the Duckling-turned-Swan. Sarah and Jenny also danced the lead roles in “Masquerade,” which was directed by Molly Koon Quist. They played two women competing for the affection of a Gentleman Suitor, played by Taylor Gober.