Arts and Entertainment

Whidbey ballet presents enchanting performance

Faith O’Brochta, as Clara, watches as the epic battle between the Nutcracker and Rat King unfolds during rehearsal of Whidbey Island Dance Theatre’s production of “The Nutcracker.” - Celeste Erickson / The Record
Faith O’Brochta, as Clara, watches as the epic battle between the Nutcracker and Rat King unfolds during rehearsal of Whidbey Island Dance Theatre’s production of “The Nutcracker.”
— image credit: Celeste Erickson / The Record

Experience a performance filled with holiday magic this weekend.

Whidbey Island Dance Theatre opens for its 21st year performing the annual holiday ballet “The Nutcracker.” Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays from Dec. 13 to 21 at the South Whidbey High School Performing Arts Center.

The ballet follows lead character, Clara, as she joins her family in their annual Christmas Eve party. Her godfather Drosselmeyer attends the party with a number of magical gifts including a wooden nutcracker. The nutcracker comes to life and rescues Clara from an epic battle with an army of rats. The nutcracker is transformed into a prince and takes her through the captivating land of snow and enchanted forests.

This year, the ballet company had more community members audition to be part of the performance and new roles were created to accommodate more dancers in both acts.

For the dance theatre, the changes are all a regular part of the annual performance.

“We have to keep people coming back year after year,” said Assistant Artistic Director Amy Lehman. “We have to keep it new and fresh for them.”

A large, new set piece will debut in the party scene along with new choreography from returning faces — Asharaine Machala with the snow scene and waltz of the flowers, and Jennifer Bondelid with the living room scene.

The theatre is known for its production of “The Nutcracker,” and always tries to expand its audience base for young performers.

“It’s such a good show to share with people,” she said. 

The cast relies on its corps of volunteers, with more volunteers this year than ever before, Lehman said. More than 100 people donated their time to help with the performance.

“The good thing about our cast is everyone pitches in and helps out with what needs to be done, she said. “It’s really cool to see how everyone rallies together to help put this show on.”

Lehman grew up dancing in the ballet on the island and said she always looks forward to reliving the memories through the younger girls.

“I remember going through it myself,” she said. “I know how much fun it is.”

She also enjoys the new people who join the ballet year after year.

“It’s fun to see how many new people get into dancing, and fall in love with dancing and ‘The Nutcracker’ every year,” she said.

The lead character, Clara, will be performed by Faith O’Brochta, accompanied by professional dancer and Whidbey native Graham Vanderwood as the Nutcracker. The pair will dance with a mix of community members, WIDT alumni and professional dancers, including Lars Larson, Ariana Abrahams, Dade Glaser, Bojohn Diciple, Brittany Falso, Chelsea Matthews-Jensen, Madyson Hunter, Kiana Henny and many younger dancers.

Ticket prices have been lowered this year, reserve seating is $18 for adults and $15 for seniors and youths ages 12 and under. Groups of 10 or more people pay $14 per ticket. Tickets at the door cost $20.

 

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