Sierra Nevada Ballet presents The Last Unicorn as part of the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. – On Monday July 24, Sierra Nevada Ballet took the stage of the Trepp Amphitheater as part of the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival to perform an original ballet based on the novel by Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn. 

Rosine Bena, Artistic Director of the Sierra Nevada Ballet wrote the stage adaption The Last Unicorn in 1989. 34 years later Bena resurrected the choreographed story, with the assistance of her muse and daughter, Ananda Bena-Weber.

A true family production, even Bena’s late parents, Edward and Anne Bena, had a hand in creating, directing and producing Rosine’s original creation.

Act 1 Scene 1 The Magical Forest with part of the original 1989 set (Tree) The Last Unicorn by Rosine Bena
Ashleigh Goodwin Tahoe Daily Tribune

Bena and her daughter lead the dance company and the production team brought some of the original props, costumes, and a few set pieces created for the original performances in the Bay Area in 89-91. 

After directing the original show with her mother, Rosine said “the tradition continues as my daughter has helped me with the recreation of this work and performs the roles of Mommy Fortuna and Molly Grue.

“Ballet is like a unicorn,” the director told the audience, “There are people that see the Unicorn and believe in it and then there’s others that just see a horse,” said Rosine.

“When I consider the length of devotion, the time, the years Rosine worked on it, I’m floored. The whole effect was so overwhelming! I was enormously touched by Ananda’s performance, she left me breathless and in tears,” Beagle told the Tribune he didn’t expect what he saw.

The amphitheater tucked into Sand Harbor provided an unparalleled setting to view the dance drama, even the dancers were in awe. 

The dancers could hear the waves according to Leighton Womble, 12 year old ballerina who told the Tribune The Last Unicorn was her second time performing on the open-air stage. 

David, Davie, Jennifer and Sophia Johnson said their family is dedicated to the arts and the ballet company. 

The Johnson Family backstage at The Last Unicorn Trepp Amphitheater. 16 year old Sophia (middle left), previously a dancer, now plays in the Reno Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.
Ashleigh Goodwin Tahoe Daily Tribune

Jennifer who assists with costume making and grant-writing for SNB to secure financial support to ensure the company’s longevity. 

Davie, 17, and his father David, family Physician and Chief of Staff at Carson Tahoe Hospital, each played dual parts on Monday and glowed with pride during intermission for the work in the first act.

David has been dancing with the company since 2019 when he was needed to fill the part of the father in the Peanutcracker. 

“I went from 0 to professional dancer in three years,” David told the Tribune while drawing the line at tights in the beginning, after six months of ballet classes and a request to dance in the summer show he gave in and now wears the full regalia of a real ballerina. 

David Johnson, family Physician and Chief of Staff at Carson Tahoe Hospital, played dual parts in The Last Unicorn as part of Lake Tahoe’s Shakespeare Festival
Ashleigh Goodwin Tahoe Daily Tribune

Jennifer, grant writer and costume assistant, told the Tribune that following the production in Tahoe, they anticipate a sold out show at the Carson City Community Center August 5. Tickets are available online at

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