Religious leaders take on role as Mother Ginger in The Nutcracke - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Religious leaders take on role as Mother Ginger in The Nutcracker

(Source: WTOL) (Source: WTOL)
(Source: WTOL) (Source: WTOL)
TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) -

Toledo Ballet's performance of The Nutcracker is a classic in the area. In their 76th year, the production is getting a new twist, a religious one.

The role of Mother Ginger in The Nutcracker is by invitation only, and while several males have stepped into the large skirt to grace the stage, this year three new men will take on the role. A Priest, Rabbi and Imam.

"People focus too much on things that divide us in our faith traditions, and it's wonderful if we can focus on the things that unite us," said Father Ronald Olszewski, retired president of St. Francis de Sales High School.

Toledo Ballet invites community leaders to portray the role of Mother Ginger every year. This year, they decided to ask leaders in three different faith communities: Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

"With the Rabbi and the Priest, I am so happy that all of us are contributing to the success of this show,” said Imam Telal Eid, from the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo.

Mother Ginger makes her appearance during act two of the classic show as dancers prance out of her iconic costume. While it's a role none of them thought they would do, it is one they are excited to tackle together.

“I'm excited,” said Rabbi Sam Weinstein, Temple Shomer Emunim. “I'm also wondering how it's going to be. This is not something I'm familiar with, but I will do it, and I've been told it's not that difficult."

The three faith leaders got their first look at the role, show and costume Thursday night during dress rehearsal.

While it doesn't involve talking or dancing, the three Mother Gingers will want to practice a lot because members of their faith bodies will be in the audience.

Despite a large crowd they don't seem too nervous for their big debut.

"It seems like we have a good deal of freedom in how we portray ourselves," said Rabbi Weinstein who will play Mother Ginger Sunday Dec.18 at 2 p.m.

"As far as I know, I just have to flop my arms and look happy,” explained Father Olszewski, who plays Mother Ginger when the show opens on Saturday, Dec. 17 at 2 p.m.  “And ham it up," he added.

"I think I have memorized my role very well,” joked Imam Eid of his non-speaking role Mother Ginger. He takes the stage on Saturday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. “So just let's go for it and you will see."

If you are interested in seeing the religious leaders step into their new role, you can contact the box office for tickets at 419-381-8851, or go to the Toledo Ballet website.

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