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Tears ... From the Downbeat

December 24, 2009 - Phyllis Sigal
Not once, but twice in the past 10 days at Capitol Theatre performances have I experienced that overwhelming feeling of being choked up. (Of course, those who know me, know it's a pretty common occurrence.)

It started as soon as I heard the first strains of "The Nutcracker," my new favorite holiday tradition. This year, the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra teamed up with Oglebay Instutute's School of Dance and several professional dancers for a beautiful rendition of the classic favorite. The Sugar Plum Fairy was exquisite.

The live music was such a wonderful addition to the ballet. I can't remember the last time that happened here in Wheeling — but apparently it was under Maestra Rachael Worby's baton. Even the Pittsburgh ballet does not use live music anymore with its "The Nutcracker" performances.

Whitney Thompson was a wonderful Clara — a role my daughter used to dance when she was a student at Oglebay Institute. In fact, Whitney was one of her little dance students way back when. Whitney has grown into a beautiful dancer — which brought tears to my eyes and to Amanda's.

More than 1,000 tickets were sold for each of the two performances at The Capitol Theatre — quite respectable for the first try.

When WSO Executive Director Bruce Wheeler asked the audience on that snowy Saturday afternoon if "The Nutcracker," which was billed as a "new tradition," should continue to be a Wheeling holiday tradition, the audience responded with rousing applause and a even few hoots and hollers.

I'm looking forward to next year's production already!

And then there's the B.E. Taylor Christmas Show .... in its 14th year in Wheeling. There are some people who believe Christmas wouldn't come if they didn't see B.E.'s show!

How wonderful for the show to be back in the Capitol Theatre.

There are so many elements of B.E.'s show that the audience looks forward to each year: Wheeling Park High School's drum line and steel drum band, the Triadelphia Middle School choir and the Aliquippa Church in the Round Choir.

Of course there is B.C. Taylor's and Rick Witkowski's little snare drum number — alway a treat. B.C. has been part of the show since the age of around 11; now 24, he's a major force behind the drum kit. He said after Wednesday's show that he's so proud to be part of his dad's show.

But what gets me every year is the drum line. I remember the first time I saw the show, when the drummer boys (and girls) made their way down the aisles to the stage. I'm getting the chills just thinking about it. And, then, the very next year, I watched as my son Leland was one of those drummers. It's such a powerful moment.

A few little new things spice things up each year. Band member Jamie Peck's 7-year-old adorable son Liam has gotten in on the act, too, singing a few songs with "Uncle Ricky."

The younger members (20-somethings) of the band: B.C., Anthony Rankin and Dom Liberati had their time to shine at this year's concert, playing one of the jazzy songs from "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

The whole night, from beginning to end, is a gift, full of love and holiday spirit.

Seeing the guys in the band, then all the family members join in on the stage at the end of the concert, certainly makes you "Feel the Love of Christmas" (as B.E.'s song puts forth) every year.

Traditions ... new ones and old ones ... what a great way to enjoy the holidays.


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B.E. Taylor