BY TOM LAVIS
Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” is a feast for the eyes and ears, and the Johnstown Concert Ballet will offer three performances to satisfy the appetite of area audiences.
The ballet company will present the holiday classic at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30 and at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1 at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, 450 Schoolhouse Road, Richland Township.
As the company’s artistic director, Carla Prucnal said she strives to keep the annual production fresh by adding one or two new routines.
“The only time I get nervous is when the curtain goes up on the first performance,” Prucnal said.
“Once the music starts, I realize we have done all we can do to prepare, and it’s time to enjoy the hard work they put into rehearsal.”
Once again, three girls will dance the role of Clara.
Handling the lead role will be dancers Michaela Coons, Nicole Khouzami and Sydney Baumgardner.
“With doing three performances, it’s a way of letting three girls experience the coveted role of Clara,” Prucnal said.
“Many young girls dream of one day dancing one of the leading roles, and in all the years we have been doing ‘The Nutcracker,’ we have never had any girl dance the role of Clara more than once.”
Staging the performance since 1978, the company has a treasure trove of costumes, props and sets.
“This year, we designed and made all new outfits for our waltz of the flowers,” Prucnal said.
“We make all our own costumes with me doing the designs and Winnie Voytko doing the sewing and alterations.”
Doing costumes in-house saves thousands of dollars.
To get the proper designs for some of the 19th-century period costumes, organizers used Godey’s magazine to replicate the Victorian-style costume.
“Our original dress for Clara’s mother was made from drapery fabric, and it still is in good condition,” Prucnal said.
Prucnal is pleased to see how the holiday performance has become a tradition among area families.
“Ruby Whorl’s father, Jason, will dance a waltz with his daughter,” Prucnal said.
The role of Clara’s brother, Fritz, will be played by Trygve Nordlund.
Trygve, who is 12 years old, will dance all three shows.
“This is a comic role, and Trygve is having a great deal of fun with it,” Prucnal said.
The ballet company obtains the services of several dancers from Point Park University in Pittsburgh to perform principal roles.
They are Stephanie Learish as the Sugar Plum Fairy; Jake Catlett as the Prince; Jay Kirk as Drosselmeyer; and Josh Munoz and Anthony Williams in the Arabian dance.
“There are some difficult lifts in ‘The Nutcracker,’ and having the male dancers from Point Park ensures the safety of the dancers,” Prucnal said.
Other main character roles are performed by noncompany members.
The characters are the mother and father, portrayed by Molly Stewart and Dr. Alan Teich; the grandmother and grandfather, portrayed by Karen Soliday and J.D. Griffith; and Father Christmas, played by John Weakland.
The male guests are Tanner Dick, Mark Kresak, Fisk Lee, Brandon Neal, Tobias Nordlund, Joseph Nibert, David Stewart, Jason Whorl, Sen. John Wozniak and Ray Zwick.
“These roles give fathers a chance to dance with their daughters during the ballroom scene,” Prucnal said.
The female guests are Mary Ann Ackman, Susan Briggs, Paige Hockycko and Eileen Pears.
Senior company members are Victoria Baca, Lily Bradley, Alexandra D’Arrigo, Lindsay Geiser, Taylor George, Tristin Kresak, Rachael Morgart, Alexis Nibert, Angelina Ozeck, Theresa Ozeck, Inez Panebianco, Isabella Panebianco, Samantha Petak, BriAnne Rager, Ashley Shriver, Laurel Steinly, Christy Stewart, Emily Stewart, Jenna Tokarsky, Cassy Weakland, Madelynn Weir, Ruby Whorl and Susan Williams.
Junior company members are Madalyn Barnes, Meghana Gella, Ashley Jeschonek, Morgan Lybarger, Abigail Rose, Cassidy Weir, Lauren Anderson, Alexandra Barnhart, Abigail D’Arrigo, Sarah Hofecker, Natalie Kimmel, Penelope Lee, Taylor Mock, Shannon Tokarsky, Kamy Villacis, Lindsey Anderson, Lauren Connor, Kathy Goas, Ashley Hamula, Arianna Kline, Eryn McKendree, India Menkaure, Leah Mikeasky, Christiana Parrish, Ashley Rhodes, Nathalie Frem, Haely Goller, Preslee Metil, Juleisy Morales, Alivia Nikonow, Leah Perry, Vivian Popp, Lily Runkle, Josie Sefcik, Eva Weir, Helena Fisher, Audrey Gokey, Skylah Harrington, Lindsey Hodge, Kyra Kimmel, Gretchen Miller, Alexandra Mock, Ivy Peterman, Fiona Stuart, Piper Bruce, Haidee Errett, Shyanne Hillegas and Sophia Kline.
“We are pleased that the community supports ‘The Nutcracker’ each year, and that is evident when we had to go to three performances about 10 years ago,” Prucnal said.
“The Nutcracker” has become a staple during the holiday season.
“It’s a wonderful story that demonstrates how good triumphs over evil, and it shows young people that dreams do come true,” Prucnal said.
What: “The Nutcracker,” presented by Johnstown Concert Ballet.
Where: Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, 450 Schoolhouse Road, Richland Township.
When: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1.
Tickets: 269-7200 or (800) 846-2787.
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