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Dasher's Magical Gift: Behind the Curtain

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Allers and Santa

Written by Paula Kinev
CNY Arts Education Coordinator
Photo: Santa and Le Moyne College alumna, Elizabeth Allers (‘13), Stage Manager 

Each holiday season the Crouse Hinds Theater in downtown Syracuse transforms into a festive stage where elves and reindeer hastily prepare for central New York's new holiday tradition- Dasher's Magical Gift! Le Moyne College alumni and faculty help bring this annual show to life for central New York children.

First produced in 2014, Dasher is a 21st century update on CNY Arts’ 36-year tradition of offering an affordable holiday ballet narrated for young children and families. The revamped and modernized production is designed to be both educational and entertaining for youngsters, especially for those whose first experience with live theater and dance is at Dasher. The story finds Dasher, the fastest reindeer on Santa’s team, just a few days before Christmas unable to fly- can Peppermint, his biggest reindeer fan, help Dasher fly for the big night?

The production and creative team that brings Dasher to life each holiday season all come from Le Moyne College. Matt Chiorini (storywriter), Larry Crabtree (choreographer and director), Lindsey Quay Voorhees(costume designer) are current Le Moyne College faculty. Stage-managing the production is a Le Moyne alumna, Elizabeth Allers. Catherine Kingsley provides additional costume designs for the production. John Czajkowski (technical director/lighting) currently works at Le Moyne College,designing lights for the college's main stage season.

Matt Chiorini, Chair, Department Visual & Performing Arts, wrote the story for Dasher. Matt is an award-winning internationally performed playwright, who brings years of professional and educational experience from Tennessee, Arkansas, and Colorado to his position at Le Moyne College. Matt served as the Artistic Director for 3 years at People’s Branch Theatre in Nashville (voted “Best Local Theatre Company” in 2005 and 2006), for 5 years with the Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre), and for 3 years with the Repertory Theatre at Sea for Crystal Cruises. As a playwright, Matt has 5 plays published. As an educator, Matt has taught at the University of Central Arkansas, Belmont University, University of Northern Colorado and Ca Foscari University in Venice. Matt received his MFA from A.R.T. Institute at Harvard and the Moscow Art Theater, where he lived in the spring of 2002.

Larry Crabtree is the director and choreographer of the annual production. Larry is originally from Syracuse and received his dance training at the Center of Ballet & Dance Arts under the direction of Deborah Boughton. He was a professional dancer in New York City for more than 20 years while training at the STEPS Studios and Joffrey Ballet School. He was assistant director/principal dancer with the Anglo-American Ballet under the direction of Catherine Kingsley. Larry’s diversity in training and abilities allowed him the opportunities to perform as a company member and guest artist with New Jersey Ballet, New York Theatre Ballet, Peter Pucci Plus Dancers and the New York City Jazz Ensemble. He has performed at Alice Tully Hall - Lincoln Center, the Joyce & Joyce Soho Theatre’s and the New Victory Theatre in New York City. Larry has performed overseas in Switzerland, Scotland and Mexico.

Lindsey Quay Voorhees is a visiting professor of costume design at Le Moyne College and also works as a freelance artist throughout the year. After joining the college in 2013, Lindsey has created costumes in several shows for the college including Dead Man’s Cell Phone and The 4th Graders Present an Unnamed Love-Suicide, both directed by Matthew Chiorini, and The Master and Margarita, directed by Leslie Noble from Syracuse Stage. She also serves as Le Moyne’s costume shop manager and teaches classes in design and construction. After receiving her Masters of Fine Arts in Costume Design from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in 2011 she went on to work as the University of Mississippi’s Instructor of Costume Design where she designed costumes for The Crucible, directed by Rory Ledbetter, and The Complete History of America (Abridged), directed by Joe Turner Cantú.

Other costume design credits include The Producers and Hairspray at Weathervane Playhouse, directed by Erika Twining, and Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Winston-Salem Symphony Orchestra, directed by Gerald Freedman. 

John Czajkowski is a freelance lighting designer in the Syracuse area. He is currently working with Le Moyne College, designing lights for their upcoming Main Stage season. He also designed lights for Le Moyne’s season last year. John has worked as Production Coordinator at Turning Stone Casino and as Technical Director and Production Manager for The Red House Arts Center. He has designed lights for a number of Redhouse productions to include, Life X's Three, [sic], Vigil, John and Jen, and Odysseus DOA, which featured a New York City run. John is a member of the IATSE stagehand union and continues to work throughout the area on events. In addition, John consults with many local high schools on their productions each year.

Rounding out the Le Moyne team is alumna, Elizabeth Allers (Theatre Arts and English, 2013) who has been the stage manager for the production since its premiere in 2014. Elizabeth worked at CNY Arts for two years as the program associate assisting in the administrative functions of the agency. She graduated this year from the museum studies graduate program at Syracuse University and currently is the manager at the Kallet Theater in Pulaski. Elizabeth also works as the marketing coordinator and frequent stage manager for the Central New York Playhouse. She has been stage manager with Syracuse Opera, the Red House, and Gifford Family Theatre.

CNY Arts is excited to have such a strong team from Le Moyne College behind the success of Dasher’s Magical Gift. The show features a colorful cast of characters, beautiful dancing and music, ample doses of humor, and some high-flying holiday magic.

In its premiere in 2014, Neil Novelli, Syracuse.com wrote, “At every turn it offers graceful and lively dancing, splendid sets and costumes and a brisk, unfailing sense of humor.”

This production is a delight for kids and parents alike, and is quickly becoming a new holiday classic in Central New York. The public performance is Saturday December 10th at 11:00am, ticket information can be found at CNY Arts’ events calendar.

Buy 4 or more tickets and use discount ticket code “DASH16” to receive $1 off each ticket purchased.

Celebrate and support local talent and enjoy the holidays with CNY Arts, Le Moyne alumna & faculty and the dancers of Dance Centre North as we spread holiday cheer to families throughout central New York!

Dasher’s Magical Gift is a locally produced wonderful holiday show for the whole family.

Posted On: November 30, 2016
Listed As: Events in CNY