The Centenary Stage Company is once again hosting The New Jersey Civic Youth Ballet's (NJCYB) annual performance of The Nutcracker in the David and Carol Lackland Center in Hackettstown. "For millions of Americans, it wouldn't be Christmas without seeing a production of The Nutcracker," says CSC General Manger Catherine Rust. With a cast of over 60 talented dancers from Hunterdon, Morris, Sussex, and Warren Counties, this ballet based on Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite is unique because of the narration by actress Janine Byrnes telling the story from the perspective of young Clara Stahlbaum.
In this dramatic presentation, the audience is invited to Dr. and Mrs. Stahlbaum's Christmas Party. As the theater darkens, and some of the world's most beautiful music plays, Ms. Byrnes takes the audience on a storybook adventure. Clara's Godfather presents his magic show of dancing dolls enchanting the children who attend the party. He has gifts for all, but one touches the young Clara's heart, an ugly Nutcracker. As Clara falls asleep under the beautiful Christmas tree, the noise of mice wake her. To save Clara, the Nutcracker and his army battle the giant Mouse King. The Nutcracker turns into a handsome prince, and takes a grown-up Clara through the enchanted forest into the land of Christmas. "This is the most enchanting fairy tale of a child's most unforgettable Christmas," says NJCYB Director, Christine Taylor, "Through Ms. Byrne's narration, young children understand a fanciful story, while the rest of us realize that this is truly a story of life, love, and the holiday spirit."
The role of Clara will be shared by Emily Pesce (Mt. Olive) and Lilla Smith (Washington) Both dancers have performed in the Nutracker for years but this marks their first appearance as Clara. The role of Fritz will be performed by Hadley DeGregoris (Independence) and Emelia Belet (Belvidere). Guest performer Matt Varvar and partner Alexandra Dresser join the company this year to dance the Arabian Dolls and Parents. Varvar currently performs with MM2 a modern dance company in the Philadelphia area. Guest artists Kirk Henning and Elisabeth Holowchuk Sollog, from the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, in Washington, D.C. will dance the roles of Sugar Plum Fairy, Cavalier, and Godfather Drosselmeyer.
New Jersey Civic Youth Ballet's narrated version of The Nutcracker will be performed Dec. 14th at 7:00 pm, Dec. 15th at 2:00 pm & 7:00 pm, and Dec. 16th at 3:00 pm in the Sitnik Theater at The Lackland Center. Ticket prices range from $15-$25. They are available through the Centenary Stage Company box office by calling 908-979-0900, and online at www.centenarystageco.org