As our neighbors' homes begin to don twinkling lights, Christmas tree lots spring up around town and holiday music starts to play in shopping malls and on car radios, another classic Christmas reminder finds its way to stages around the world - "The Nutcracker Ballet."
The Williamsport Civic Ballet has delighted audiences with the timeless performance for decades and will celebrate 50 years of presenting Peter Tchaikovsky's holiday classic with 2 performances at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1 and 4 p.m. Dec. 2 at the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St.
"We never thought we'd get this far," said Kay Enterline of herself and her husband, Tom, founders of the Williamsport Civic Ballet. "We saw 'The Nutcracker' in New York City and decided we were going to do that."
RALPH WILSON/Sun-Gazette Correspondent
The Enterlines said the first few years they had the show in Williamsport they only performed "The Nutcracker Suite," which consists of portions of the full ballet. They have been doing the score in its entirety since about 1975.
The couple have played numerous roles within the Civic Ballet, acting as directors, teachers and dancers. In honor of the show's 50th anniversary, Tom, 75, and Kay, 74, both plan to briefly take the stage as dancers in the performance.
"Since this is the 50th, our daughter insisted that we had to be on the stage, so we're going up for five minutes," Kay said.
Both of the Enterline's daughters also play a role in the performance. Alicia Little is the choreographer and Nathalie Enterline will be dancing as the mechanical doll.
There are 62 dancers in the show, the youngest dancer being 7 years old. Two dancers from the American Ballet Theatre in New York City also will join the group - April Giangeruso will dance as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Roman Zhurbin as the Prince. This will be Giangeruso's fourth year with the local performance and Zhurbin's third year.
Over the years, many dancers from the New York City Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre have joined the Williamsport Civic Ballet for their "Nutcracker" performance, but Giangeruso and Zhurbin have stayed on the longest, according to the Enterlines.
"They are so good with the kids because they'll stand backstage and encourage all the kids for all of the numbers. It's neat," Tom said.
Other major rolls are played by Hannah Hixon, Clara; Ryan Beiler, Fritz; Robert Bond, the Nutcracker Prince; and Joseph Laver the Mouse King.
The dancers endure 12 weeks of rehearsals, following auditions, which were held the first Saturday in August. Choreography began the Thursday and Saturday after Labor Day. Rehearsals are held at their studio at the Pajama Factory, 1307 Park Ave., where they have been for the past 20 years.
There will be two performances this year, something the Enterlines said has not been done for many years. They typically have an audience of about 1,000 for the show and they hope to see at least that, if not more, between the two performances this year.
A "Nutcracker Tea Party" will be held at 2 p.m. Dec. 2 in the Capitol Lounge of the CAC. The tea party is mainly geared toward children, but anyone of any age is welcome to attend. The Enterlines said they have had more adults than children attend in past years.
Tea party attendees will hear the story of "The Nutcracker" and will get to watch the dancers taking class on stage. The dancers also will interact with the attendees, answering questions and giving autographs.
A reunion party for all of the dancers who have performed in the show during the past 50 years also is planned for 1 p.m. Dec. 1.
Tickets for "The Nutcracker Ballet" are $15 to $25 and are available online at www.caclive.com/index. php/dance/nutcracker or visit the CAC box office. Tickets for the "Nutcracker Tea Party" are available by calling the Williamsport Civic Ballet at 323-2953. Seating is limited.