By Ed Albanesi
When you think of Christmas in the nation’s Oldest City, two things immediately come to mind. Number one on the list in the fabulous Nights of Lights. Not far behind is the St. Augustine Ballet Nutcracker, now in its amazing 11th year.
Performances are scheduled at 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21 and Sunday, Dec. 22 in downtown St. Augustine’s Lewis Auditorium.
Scores of young dancers from the local and surrounding areas began rehearsing in August for this timeless classic. Each year the audience is filled with familiar faces that never tire of the story of a young girl whose dreams bring a toy nutcracker to life.
And then there are those who upon seeing the ballet for the first time become immediately mesmerized by an engaging story, the dancing, and the music of Tchaikovsky.
Nutcracker Director Luis Abella is bringing in a few young dancers from Atlanta to complement his local cast. Three male dancers from Atlanta’s Orlando Molina Ballet T.C. will join the ranks in the roles of Cavalier, Snow King and Dewdrop Prince. They will also comprise the Russian ensemble.
The Nutcracker is only one of the annual events the St. Augustine Ballet contributes to the culture of our local community. sThere is a second ballet performed in the spring (a reprise of the Wizard of Oz in 2020) and an International Dance Festival held in the early fall. Representatives of the Milwaukee Ballet are coming to St. Augustine in January to hold auditions for their 2020 Summer Intensives Program.
Abella is proud of fame and commerce that the St. Augustine Ballet brings to his community.
“People come to our events and contribute to the vitality of our hospitality industries,” says Abella. “Not only do they share in our culture, they eat in our restaurants, shop in our stores and stay in our hotels.”
The full local cast and their roles are below …
Students dancing in the Nutcracker represent at least 33 area schools. They include:
Island Prep, Cathedral Parish School, Matanzas Christian Academy, Anastasia Baptist, St. Augustine Public Montessori, RB Hunt Elementary School, Wards Elementary School, Liberty Pines Academy, Crookshank Elementary School, Gamble Rogers Middle School, Sebastian Middle School, Valley Ridge Academy, Bartram Trail High School, St. Joseph Academy, Peniel Baptist Academy, Murray Middle School, Clay High School, St. John’s River State College, Pedro Menendez High School, St. Augustine High School, Pacetti Bay Middle School, Wards Creek Elementary School, Otis Mason Elementary School, Osceola Elementary School, Florida Virtual School, Ketterlinus Elementary School, Switzerland Point Middle School, Lake Asbury Junior High, Lake Asbury Elementary School, Durbin Creek Elementary School, Allen D. Nease High School, Fruit Cove Middle School, Shadowlawn Elementary School and those homeschooled.
The Timberlin Creek Elementary School Choir will be joining the cast again for the second consecutive year.
Flowers for the dancers and keepsake ornaments and other items will be on sale before, during and after all performances of the Nutcracker. The Nutcracker Boutique is organized and run by volunteers with all net proceeds from sales supporting the Ballet.
Tickets for the Nutcracker are currently on sale and can be purchased online at https://www.tututix.com/saintaugustineballet
Tickets will also be available in the lobby beginning one hour before each performance.
- Clara – Tess Woodward
- Fritz – Jax Czerniak
- Maid – Brooke Shoultz, Zoica Garcia
- Cats – Maura Hamilton, Adelaide Pacetti, Emma Sweeney
- Clara’s Friends – Josephine Anzelmo, Paris Lugo, Jolynne Waldner, Eléa Woodward, Kismet Field
- Party Girls – Lexi Brockway, Catalina Davis, Jocelyn Herstone, Natalee Hardy, Ofir Pizanti, Erin Wilson
- Party Boys – Devan Browning, Abby Chapman, Taylor Cardona, Austin Fields, Kaitlin Potter
- Little Sisters – Joanna Herstone, Nature Kuc, Chloe Straw, Adèle Woodward
- Drosselmeyer’s Nephew – Anthony Romero
- Harlequin – Devin Mantei
- Columbine – Ella Wimpelberg
- Porcelain Doll – Grace Karger
- Mechanical Doll – Jake Karger
- Party Parents – Dr. Todd and Katherine Batenhorst, Dr. Bill and Susan Foody, Dan and Bethany Hilbert, Georgia Garrett
- Clara’s Parents – Luis Abella, Emily Masson
- Drosselmeyer – Orlando Molina
- Nutcracker/Prince – Jake Karger
- Mouse King – Anthony Romero
- Mouse Queen – Lexi Brockway
- Mice – Sophia Budd Genesis Castellon, Kalia Chaconas, Lilian Czajkowski, Riley Deputy, Maggie Harris, Camryn Larson, Valeria Leonard, Anastasia McClarnon, Amelija Mask, Eveline Newhouse, Ellie Pacetti, Hailey Potter, Mesa Unsworth, Miriam Wallace
- Soldiers – Giovana Andrioti, Devan Browning, Abby Chapman, Taylor Cardona, Austin Fields, Giada Martinez, Kaitlin Potter
- Snow Queen – Eléa Woodward
- Snow Corps A – Jenny Albanesi, Claudia Mueckay, Paris Lugo, Jolynne Waldner
- Snow Corps B – Nisha Andrews, Madison Deprey, Kismet Field, Annebelle Hucke, Jocelyn Herstone, Skylar Hudson, Meadow Kuc, Emma Maroney
- Little Snow – Nature Kuc, Lucy Murr
Land of Sweets
- Angels – Olivia Budd, Kristen Cook, Lilah Craig, Jocelyn Dietly, Ella Grady, Sloane Hilbert, Addie Isaac, Waverly Kozol, Emily Laider, Ella Nuemark, Genevieve Pacetti, Marlow Reyes, Abby Sargeant, Charlotte Smith
- Spanish Lead – Jenny Albanesi
- Spanish Corps – Josephine Anzelmo, Devan Browning, Lexi Brockway
- Chinese Lead – Claudia Mueckay
- Chinese Corps – Nisha Andrews, Genesis Castellon, Kalia Chaconas, Lilian Czajkowski, Joanna Herstone, Anastasia McClarnon, Mesa Unsworth, Miriam Wallace
- Arabian Lead – Grace Karger/Devin Mantei
- Arabian Corps – Maura Hamilton, Nature Kuc, Emma Maroney, Adelaide Pacetti, Chloe Straw, Emma Sweeney
- Russian Corps – Abby Chapman, Taylor Cardona, Jax Czajkowski, Kaitlin Potter, Riley Deputy, Valeria Leonard, Lucy Murr, Anthony Romero
- Mirliton Lead – Paris Lugo/Jolynne Waldner
- Mirliton Corps – Cataina Davis, Annabelle Hucke, Jocelyn Herstone, Meadow Kuc
- Mother Ginger – Giovana Andrioti, Austin Fields, Camryn Larson, Giada Martinez, Ellie Pacetti, Hailey Potter, Adèle Woodward
- Dew Drop – Ella Wimpelberg
- Flower Corps A – Josephine Anzelmo, Lexi Brockway, Paris Lugo, Kismet Field, Jolynne Waldner, Erin Wilson
- Flower Corps B – Madison Deprey, Natalee Hardy, Skylar Hudson, Ofir Pizanti
- Sugar Plum – Grace Karger/Devin Mantei
- Mother Ginger – Chris Pacetti, Rich Mantei