By Ed Albanesi
Some readers might wonder why a man with mostly masculine leanings who resides on the far side of retirement age spends so much time writing about the St. Augustine Ballet.
My ballet columns published on this site have stretched into double-digit territory and I have no immediate plans to cut back on them. The reasons for my focus are both simple and transparent.
My daughter, Jenny, has danced in every St. Augustine Ballet production since the 2011 Nutcracker. The official, unwritten rules of parenthood require my participation.
Beyond that, the shows produced by the St. Augustine Ballet are fun, entertaining, beautiful to watch and always leave me smiling.
Although dancers come and go, there is a core of dancers I have watched grow from the cute stage, to the poised, precise and magnificent stage. The transformations have been a joy to experience.
The Nutcracker has been presented each Christmas season since 2009. And every spring, other popular ballets are presented and usually have a two-year run. The St. Augustine Ballet will present the final year’s run of Alice in Wonderland on May 12-13.
The Saturday performance will begin at 7 p.m. at Flagler College’s Lewis Auditorium. Starting time for the Sunday performance will be 2 p.m. Tickets are available at https://www.tututix.com/tickets/ (click on St. Augustine Ballet). Tickets will also be available at the door one-hour prior to each show.
According to the Ballet’s assistant director, Emily Masson, this year’s cast will be nearly a third larger than last year’s cast. She said an increased number of younger kids auditioned this year, possibly after having their interest piqued after attending last year’s performances.
Eléa Woodward has been cast as Alice. And if her performance as Clara in the 2016 St. Augustine Nutcracker is any indication, ballet fans should get ready for another spectacular outing.
Woodward will be supported by a superb ensemble of both new and familiar faces.
The full cast is presented below:
- Alice- Eléa Woodward
- Sisters- Grace Karger, Devin Mantei
- Marching Band- Josie Anzelmo, Kismet Field, Jake Karger, Naomi Lewis, Jenny Albanesi, Lexi Brockway
- School Girls- Ayla Lugo, Catalina Davis, Mileena Bicknell, Rayna Glad
- School Boys- Ofir Pizanti, Zoe Pounder, Meadow Kuc, Abby Chapman
- Little School Children- Annabelle Hucke, Jocelyn Herstone
- Family 1- Emma Sweeney, Chloe Straw
- Family 2- Emma Maroney, Maura Hamilton, Adelaide Pacetti
- White Rabbit- Harlow Hatin
- Butterflies- Claudia Mueckay, Sabrina Berman
- Blue Bird- Paris Lugo
- Duck- Jolynne Waldner
- Trees- Zana Schiano, Sydney Brockway, Carolina Garcia, Naomi Lewis
- Mice- Nature Kuc, Jaida Fiorenze
- Forest Queen- Arianna Fleischman
- Flowers- Grace Karger, Devin Mantei, Kali Lee, Ella Wimpelberg
- Little Flowers- Tess Woodward, Josie Anzelmo, Marla Ayrish, Jenny Albanesi
- Lead Tear- Grace Karger
- Tears- Claudia Mueckay, Lucy Ramsey, Kali Lee, Lexi Brockway, Sabrina Berman, Devin Mantei
- Baby Fish- Emma Maroney, Emma Sweeney, Adelaide Pacetti, Adèle Woodward
- Fish- Meadow Kuc, Annabelle Hucke, Jocelyn Herstone, Abby Chapman, Ofir Pizanti, Madison Deprey
- Oysters-Chloe Straw, Maura Hamilton
- Turtle- Jake Karger
- Dodo- Katherine DeAcutis
- Dormouse- Emily Screnock
- Caterpillar- Ella Wimpelberg
- Caterpillar Corps- Josie Anzelmo, Tess Woodward, Kismet Field, Mileena Bicknell, Zoe Pounder, Catalina Davis
- Cheshire Cat- Marla Ayrish
- Cat Corps- Zana Schiano, Sydney Brockway, Carolina Garcia, Naomi Lewis
Tea Party Scene
- Tappers- Emily Screnock, Lexi Brockway, Taylor Cardona, Dylan Lewis, Rayna Glad, Milo Christensen, Hailey Hatin, Lucy Ramsey
- Cards- Mileena Bicknell, Tess Woodward, Josie Anzelmo, Ayla Lugo, Sabrina Berman, Claudia Mueckay, Lucy Ramsey, Naomi Lewis
- Little Cards- Madison Deprey, Catalina Davis, Ofir Pizanti
- Queen of Hearts- Kali Lee
- Little Flamingos- Emma Sweeney, Adelaide Pacetti, Chloe Straw, Maura Hamilton
- Flamingos- Carolina Garcia, Rayna Glad, Lexi Brockway, Kismet Field
- Hedge Hogs- Zoe Pounder, Meadow Kuc, Annabelle Hucke, Jocelyn Herstone, Jaida Fiorenze, Nature Kuc
- Roses- Jolynne Waldner, Paris Lugo, Grace Karger, Devin Mantei
- Duchess- Jenny Albanesi
- Baker- Emma Maroney
- Ball Scene- Zana Schiano, Sydney Brockway, Abby Chapman
Luis Abella is the director of the St. Augustine Ballet and will provide direction for these performances. Music editor is Carolyn Karger. Costume design is by Virginie Woodward with Rob O’Leary responsible for set design.
The choreography is being created and coordinated by Abella, Masson and Jenne Vermes (director of Noise Complaint Tap Dance Company).
Dancers will be representing more than 20 local schools including, Pedro Menendez, St. Augustine High, Creekside High, St. Joseph, Douglas Anderson, Murray Middle, Indian Trails Middle, Pacetti Bay, Otis Mason, Durbin Creek, R.B. Hunt, Ward’s Creek, Palencia, Elementary, Ketterlinus, Timberlin Creek Elementary, Hartley, Veritas Classic School, St. Augustine Public Montessori, Cathedral Parish School, Valley Ridge Academy, St. John’s Academy, St. John’s Virtual, Florida Virtual and homeschooled.
As usual, my wife, Carol, and I (mostly Carol) will be running a boutique and flower sales in the lobby prior to both performances. All net proceeds support the St. Augustine Ballet so we hope you will drop by to see us.
Masson promised me the opening scene of Act II is brand new for this year and is something audiences should really like.
I personally had to see the Nutcracker at least a dozen times before the story, music and choreography became burned into my brain so, with only two performances of Alice in my past, everything will be new for me this year.
It’s one of the advantages of growing old. See you at the ballet.