’Tis the season for a theatrical tradition, The Nutcracker. The Hampton Ballet Theatre School ushers in the holiday season with four showings of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s classic this Friday, December 7 through Sunday, December 9, at Guild Hall’s John Drew Theater.
The Nutcracker had its professional premiere in St. Petersburg, Russia, in December 1892. It was from here that Tchaikovsky took eight of the most popular songs into an internationally recognized hit with The Nutcracker Suite. By 1940, Walt Disney had incorporated the score in his dramatic animation, Fantasia. Nearly half a century after its inception, it was first performed by the San Francisco Ballet company in the United States in 1944. Since then, the ballet has become synonymous with the holiday season.
Sara Jo Strickland, founding artistic director of HBTS, has been immersed in the local production from its conception, aiding in everything from choreography to costumes. With a cast of 90 dancers and a student company of 22 girls, Strickland recalls starting with only six children. “This is a huge accomplishment for the school as it has taken many years to develop these dancers,” she noted.
Celebrating its 10th year of bringing the Nutcracker Prince to life on stage, it’s an enchanting stage for all. The narrative rings true to form as Clara saves the Nutcracker from the wicked Mouse King, but each year the dancers try their talents at a new role. “Of course, we have families of the dancers in the audience, but we also have a community following that has seen all our ballets, and families and the community audience members follow our dancers as they grow up on stage. It is very exciting to see,” said Strickland.
Audience members will be taken away with a newly choreographed Arabian dance, as Jillian Hear and Holiday Bovio share the role of the Arabian Princess, partnered by guest artist Nick Peregrino. With all dancers Pro Student Level 7, the Dew Drop Princess will be graced by Beatrice DeGroot and Samantha Prince, partnered by guest artist Josep Maria Monreal; the Snow Queen will be performed by Lauren Gabbard and Sedona Silvera, partnered with Hudson Galardi-Troy; Devon Friedman will dance the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy as final guest artist James Stevko takes the role of Cavalier.
A few new costume designs will be shown, all designed and hand sewn by Yuka Silvera, with lighting design by Sebastian Paczynski.
Strickland reminisced about her days in The Nutcracker prior to her involvement with HTBS. “I’ve danced most roles in the production and have been in about 30 years of Nutcrackers. Hard to believe, but it never gets old! It is just so magical, I love every moment,” she said.
The 10th annual Nutcracker is sponsored by Sugar Plum Platinum sponsors SM Law Group and Bridgehampton Chiropractic, Dew Drop Gold sponsors Saunders Realty and Channing Daughters Winery, and Snow Queen Silver sponsors Bridgehampton National Bank, Almond Restaurant, Rylan Jacka at Sotheby’s International Realty, and Walbridge Surveyors.
John Drew Theater is located at 158 Main Street in East Hampton. Showtimes are Friday at 7 PM, Saturday at 1 and 7 PM, and Sunday at 2 PM. Tickets are priced $15 to $45 in advance and day of performance $20 to $50. Group rates for 10 or more people are available. To reserve, call 888-933-4287 or visit www.hamptonballettheatreschool.com.