34th annual production stars local dancers, actors, parents
A longstanding tradition in Niagara Falls continues this holiday season. The Greater Niagara Ballet Company presents its 34th annual production of "The Nutcracker."
The show is on stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, and at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Niagara Falls High School Performing Arts Center, 4455 Porter Road.
A special on-school-time performance will take place Friday morning. The GNBC is providing free transportation and tickets for more than 450 third-grade students.
"The Nutcracker" begins in the Silberhaus family living room, where family and friends have gathered to celebrate Christmas Eve. Clara, enchanted by the festivities, awaits the arrival of her mysterious Uncle Drosselmier, who brings magical presents for the party. In particular, he presents his niece with a very special Christmas gift: a nutcracker doll.
Clara finds it hard to sleep, so she sneaks into the living room to steal a glimpse of her new doll. As the clock strikes midnight, she awakens to see the Christmas tree magically growing, and her nutcracker coming to life to battle with the evil Mouse King.
After the great battle, the nutcracker is transformed into a handsome prince who travels with Clara through the "Land of Snow" to the "Kingdom of Sweets."
Once there, the Sugar Plum Fairy asks Clara to recount her adventures. As Clara is regaled for her bravery, the prince summons the sweets and spices from around the world to dance in her honor.
"The Nutcracker" is based on a tale by Ernest Hoffman and choreographed by Ivanov to the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It was first performed before the czar of Russia in St. Petersburg in 1892. It was brought to the U.S. in 1940 where, in its various interpretations, it has evolved into a beloved holiday classic.
A family favorite, the GNBC's version showcases dancers, character performers and parents under the direction of artistic director Beverley Feder, FISTD.
Thanks to a grant through the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, this year's production boasts new set pieces and new costumes.
Act I: Victoria Wagner (of Wilson) and Madison Avery (Lewiston) will split time as Clara. Lewiston's Paul Thomas reprises his role as Uncle Drosselmier.
Act II: Katie Welch (Buffalo) and Grace Gruarin (Youngstown) will take turns as the Dew Drop Fairy. They'll also play Lead Chinese. Aniko Nagy (Lewiston) and Mary Schnepf (Buffalo) will rotate as the Spanish Senorita. Nagy also stars as the Lead Russian. Sara Humphrey (Tonawanda) and Sarah Waechter (Lewiston) will each have a turn as Mother Ginger.
Guest artists include Irek Muchalski (Toronto via Poland) and Georgi Rusafov (Arizona via Bulgaria), splitting time as Cavalier and Sugar Plum Prince. Muchalski also stars as the Nutcracker Prince. Tonya Milne (Waterloo, Ontario) plays the Snow Queen and Jessica Stibick (Washington, D.C.) is the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Tickets to "The Nutcracker" are $15 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens. A family pack (two adults, two students) costs $40. Tickets are available at various locations (including all Niagara Falls Tim Hortons locations and the Orange Cat in Lewiston) and at the door prior to each performance.
For the first time, patrons can purchase tickets for "The Nutcracker" using PayPal. To do so, visit www.niagaraballet.org.
About the Greater Niagara Ballet Company
The GNBC is a not-for-profit, 501(c) (3) corporation dedicated to providing local dancers the opportunity to develop their talents in a professional theatrical setting; work with professional dancers from all parts of the world; build an understanding and appreciation of the ballet arts through ongoing educational workshops and performances; and participate in dance projects that establish the Niagara region as a high-quality ballet center.
GNBC productions are open to all ballet students by audition.