Columnist Ed Albanesi: The Nutcracker Tradition Continues

By Ed Albanesi

When George W. Bush was getting ready to begin his second term as president, my wife and I took our daughter, Jenny, to Jacksonville to see her first live production of The Nutcracker. She caught the bug and family attendance at the show became an annual tradition.

A year or two later, during the Mikhail Baryshnikov – Gelsey Kirkland version of the Nutcracker broadcast on PBS, Jenny grabbed a rag doll and began dancing around the living room to Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score. We knew that a positive addiction was beginning to take shape.

Our family attended the St. Augustine Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker the second year it was produced. The next year, 2011, Jenny joined the local Nutcracker cast. In about a week she will dance in her 10th consecutive St. Augustine Ballet Nutcracker. I remember them all

Her first roles were as an angel and a mouse. Over the years Jenny has danced in the Russian, Spanish and Chinese Corps. She has been a little sister and a party girl.

Jenny has misted my eyes with her poise and grace while dancing in the Snow and Flower scenes. She was the lead Spanish dancer two years ago and again last year when she performed a beautiful pas de deux with Jake Karger.

This year Jenny will dance as the Harlequin in the Party scene. She will continue en pointe in the Snow scene. And during the Second Act she will dance the lead in the Chinese scene. Jenny will also sing in the choir when the Ballet opens and the partygoers make their way across the stage.

I hope readers will forgive a doting dad for making such a fuss about his daughter when there are scores of other young, talented dancers participating again this year. I’ve watched many of them mature as both dancers and as human beings. I am proud of all of them. And I will list each of their names and roles at the end of this column.

Needless to say, 2020 had been quite a year. The pandemic has taken a toll on us in so many ways. I am grateful that something good is about to happen as we make our way into the New Year. 

Because of social distancing, tickets are limited to 292 guests at each of the four Nutcracker performances. But fear not, tickets are still available.

As usual, the Ballet will be performed in Flagler College’s Lewis Auditorium in downtown St. Augustine. Show times are 7 p.m. Friday, December 18; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, December 19; and 2 p.m. Sunday, December 20, 2020.

Tickets are $35, $45 to $50, available at or by calling 855-222-2849.

This year’s cast and their roles:


Clara – Jocelyn Herstone, Tess Woodward

Fritz – Austin Field

Clara’s Mom – Zoica Garcia

Clara’s Dad – Luis Abella

Clara’s Friends – Natalee Hardy, Tess Woodward, Anabelle Hucke, Jocelyn Herstone

Party Parents – Adam Deputy, Thompson McNeilly, Meghan Deputy, Georgia Garrett, Bethany Hilbert, Dan Hilbert

Cats – Joanna Herstone, Adele Woodward, Emma Sweeney

Maids – Lexi Brockway, Claudia Mueckay

Party Girls – Nisha Andrews, Skylar Hudson, Tegan Bracewell, Emma Maroney, Madison Deprey, Meadow Kuc

Party Boys – Kylie Anchors, Chloe Straw, Riley Deputy, Guilia Gonzalez, Adelaide Pacetti

Aunt Drosselmeyer – Devin Mantei

Drosselmeyer’s Nephew – Anthony Romero

Harlequin – Jenny Albanesi

Columbine – Jolynne Waldner

Porcelain Doll – Paris Lugo

Mechanical Doll – Paul Piner 

Little Sister – Nature Kuc

Cousin – Addison Underwood


Mouse King – Anthony Romero

Mouse Queen –Lexi Brockway 

Nutcracker Prince – Paul Piner

Mice – Kylie Anchor, Maddie Hartline, Sophia Bud, Maggie Harris, Riley Deputy, Nature Kuc, Guilia Gonzalez, Anastasia McClarnon, Ella Grady, Mesa Unsworth

Soldiers – Teagan Bracewell, Austin Field, Taylor Cardona, Reese McIlrath, Genesis Castellon


Snow Queen – Paris Lugo, Jolynne Waldner

Snow Corps A – Jenny Albanesi, Claudia Mueckay, Natalee Hardy, Jolynne Waldner, Paris Lugo

Snow Corps B – Nisha Andrews, Meadow Kuc, Madison Depry, Emma Maroney, Skylar Hudson, Anabelle Hucke

Snow Flake – Adelaide Pacetti, Chloe Straw


Angels – Estella Budd, Emily Laidler, Olivia Budd, River Matheu-Keel, Elise Gross, Eliana Pacetti, Maddie Hartline, Genevieve Pacetti, Sloane Hilbert, Isabella Troche

Spanish Lead – Claudia Mueckay

Spanish Corps – Madison Deputy, Meadow Kuc, Skylar Hudson

Mirlitons – Natalee Hardy, Anabelle Hucke, Jocelyn Herstone, Tess Woodward

Chinese Lead – Jenny Albanesi 

Chinese Corps – Sophia Budd, Maggie Harris, Ella Grady, Ellie Pacetti, Maddie Hartline, Mesa Unsworth

Arabian Lead – Devin Mantei 

Arabian Corps – Joanna Herstone, Emma Sweeney, Nature Kuc, Adele Woodward, Reese McIlrath

Russian Leads – Lexi Brockway, Anthony Romero

Russian Corps – Taylor Cardona, Chloe Straw, Adelaide Pacetti  

Mother Ginger – Chris Pacetti  

Bon Bons – Kylie Anchor, Austin Field, Tegan Bracewell, Guilia Gonzalas, Genesis Castellon, Emma Maroney, Riley Deputy, Anastasia McClarnon    

Dew Drop – Kira Hickman, Elea Woodward

Flower – Nisha Andrews, Paris Lugo, Natalee Hardy, Jolynne Waldner, Jocelyn Herstone, Tess Woodward, Anabelle Hucke

Cavalier – Thompson McNeilly

Sugar Plum Fairy – Elea Woodward, Kira Hickman

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