Grumpsicle makes his 30th visit to town

Posted: Thursday, December 17, 2009

If you live in Juneau, chances are the Grinch isn't the only holiday villain you're used to. The Grumpsicle, a fiendish interloper who tries every year to ruin Christmas, will make his 30th attempt this year, courtesy of the Janice Holst School of Dance.

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Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

Though the production has a recurring character, audiences are treated to a new story every year. This year it's "The Grumpsicle and Santa's Toy Machine."

"It's always a new adventure," Holst said.

The production, Holst's original creation, has been staged during the holiday season in Juneau every year but one (last year's event was postponed until spring when Holst's husband, Butch, got sick) since the 1970s. Holst came up with the idea while living in New Jersey, and produced the show there for three years before moving to Juneau in 1978. So for her, this makes year 33.

And she's still going strong.

"I just love it so much," she said. "I find the kids and everybody else so stimulating."

Part of the impetus behind the show's creation was to honor a request that her dad made back when she started teaching dance. Drawing on his own experience as the parent of a dancer, he asked her to come up with an alternative to the long, drawn-out recitals where every child is a star.

"He said 'Just do me a favor, Janice, don't make any dad sit through those shows like I had to sit through,'" Holst said.

So she came up with a show that would entertain as well as showcase, one that involved different styles of dance and changing groups of performers.

Holst plans out the basics of the story while allowing room for outside input or improvisation.

"There's a set story I come up with but then I insert certain things or parents suggest things that would be fun," she said.

All the performers - about 100 - are local. Some have been involved for generations.

"People now have their grandkids wearing the sweatshirt that they wore while they were doing the show," she said.

The performance runs for about an hour and half and will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday at Juneau-Douglas High School. Tickets can be purchased at Hearthside Books, from participating dancers or at the door. Admission is $9.

The Juneau Youth Symphony, under the direction of Guo Hua Xia, will perform from 6:30 to 7 p.m. while people are getting tickets and waiting in line.

And if this is your first time, here's a tip: Feel free to boo when the Grumpsicle comes on stage.

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