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'Nutcracker' marks 25th year in the community

Chloe Contini is one of the dancers portraying The Sugarplum Fairy.

Scott Daniels

There's an unmistakable excitement in the air at Tuscarawas Dance Arts Center in Dover as the cast of the 2017 production of "The Nutcracker Ballet" prepares for its most recent run.
The dancers are marking the 25th year of performing "The Nutcracker" each holiday season. The show will run Dec. 14, 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. All performances will be at the Performing Arts Center at Kent State University at Tuscarawas in New Philadelphia.
“We were doing a 'Charlie Brown' show,” Dance Arts Studio director Shelly Beitzel said, reflecting on "The Nutcracker’s" beginnings, “and we realized we actually had enough people to take on 'The Nutcracker.' That’s how it started. And here we are, 25 years later.”
The show was presented for the first 14 years at the Little Theatre of Tuscarawas County, then on a small stage at KSU and then at the PAC once it was completed.
“Everything has grown since the beginning,” Beitzel said. “The cast is bigger, the show is bigger and the audiences seem to get larger every year.”
Dancing the role of the Sugarplum Fairy are Chloe Contini, a junior at Dover High School, and Bethany Goddard, a junior at New Philadelphia High School.
Contini began her dancing instruction at age 3. “This is the first year I am dancing this role,” she said. “It has been a lot of work and takes a lot of energy. It’s been exhausting but very fun. It is absolutely a dream role for me, one I’ve always wanted to do.”
Spencer Stanley, also of Dover, is performing the role of The Prince. “This is my fourth year doing this,” he said. "We’ve been rehearsing for several months, and I enjoy it all very much.”
B. Todd Bradshaw will again dance the role of villain Herr Drosselmeyer. Bradshaw has been a part of "The Nutcracker Ballet" production since the very beginning.
“It was at Little Theatre that first year,” he said, “and I happened to be around to help with tear-down afterward. A year later I was doing another show, and I was asked to help. For the first 12 years, I did just about everything backstage with lighting and sets and all of it. Then the role of Herr Drosselmeyer became available, and I’ve been doing that ever since. I’ve really enjoyed every minute of it, and it has had a real impact on my life."
Bradshaw recently wrapped up filming a “mockumentary” In North Carolina, a role which came to him after a director spotted him in "The Nutcracker."
Of his years in "The Nutcracker," Bradshaw said, “What’s amazing now is that the kids I worked with in the beginning now have kids of their own, and they are in the cast. It’s just so neat to see that.”
“Those first years,” Beitzel said, “we had very little budget and handmade pretty much everything.”
Beitzel said her studio is always able to fill the many roles with dancers. “We have company dancers, and we have apprentice dancers coming up all the time.”
Other key dancers include Anna Styer and Emma Stokey of New Philadelphia as Clara, Lauren Yoder and Alexis Potopsky as the Snow Queen, and Carolina Kapper and Alexis Schupbach as The Arabian.
The Flute Dance will be shared by Emma Shamel, Emily Huprich, Lauren Armstrong and Emili Edwards. Brody Horn of New Philadelphia will dance the role of The Cavalier.
Tchaikovsky’s "The Nutcracker" was first performed in 1892 and was surprisingly unsuccessful. The story gained a large following after the 1960s and has become a major holiday tradition around the world. The music is now one of the composer’s best known works. In the story, dolls and toys at Christmastime come to life and are transformed into real-life characters.
“The community has always supported our work in putting this together. We’re glad it has become such a tradition in the area,” Beitzel said.
Tickets for "The Nutcracker" are $15 and available at the PAC box office or online at www.tuscarawasdanceartscenter.com.

Published: December 7, 2017
New Article ID: 2017171209991