Spectacular ‘Nutcracker’ returns to kick off the 2012 holiday season

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The 2012 holiday season officially gets underway in this area at 7 p.m. Friday Nov. 23, and 2 p.m. Saturday Nov. 24, when Van 
Dyke and Company and the Mahoning Valley Ballet present the perennial favorite, “The Nutcracker,” on the stage of Punxsutawney Area High School. Directed by Joan E. Van Dyke, the elaborate production features more than 80 dancers performing to the music of Tchaikovsky. The performers, ranging from pre-schoolers to senior citizens, come from Punxsutawney, Clearfield, Clarion, DuBois, Brookville, Indiana, and the surrounding area.

Commenting on the show, Joan E. Van Dyke, artistic director and choreographer, noted that “The Nutcracker has become a holiday tradition around the world, especially in America and Canada. Tchaikovsky’s unforgettable music and the story itself combine all the elements of beauty and fantasy. When you add the gracefulness of the dancers and the impact of special effects and lighting, there are so many things to please the audience. People can see the show several times and still pick up details they had never noticed before.”

Brimming over with familiar characters, the ballet revolves around Clara, a young girl who receives the gift of an enchanted nutcracker. Soon, the stage is filled with mechanical dolls, marching toy soldiers, battling mice led by King Phillipe, the Sugar Plum Fairy, and Mother Ginger and all her youngsters.Adding to the spectacle and the fun are angels, parrots, a Christmas tree that magically grows, the Snow Queen and the colorfully clad residents of the Land of Sweets.

Principal characters and dancers include Erin Achille, Elizabeth Depp-Hutchinson, Ella Glabicki, Sara Johnston, Elizabeth Keller, Laura Keller, Alanna Reitz, Dustin Jewell, Bill Depp-Hutchinson, Holly Boda-Sutton, Trevor Runco, Kevin Behm, Gene Roberts, Ron Ploucha, Agnes NG, John Achille and Nancy Jones.

“The Nutcracker involves a great deal of work on the part of many dedicated people both on stage and behind the scenes,” said Van Dyke. “Yet, when the performers hear the audience’s reaction and see the sparkle in the eyes of the children who attend, all the time and the effort are worth it.”

Ticket information is available by calling (814) 938-8434. Proceeds benefit the James Merritt Van Dyke Scholarship Award.