It’s almost time to step into that magical Christmastime dreamland.
The 35th annual Homer Nutcracker Ballet opening weekend will take place at the Homer High School Mariner Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 2 and Sunday, Dec. 3. Additional shows are scheduled for Dec. 6 and 8-9. The play’s opening weekend will also coincide with Homer Council on the Arts’ annual Nutcracker Faire.
The show follows the traditional storyline, but viewers should also expect it to be “full of magic and full of surprises,” artistic director Sally Oberstein told Homer News last Thursday, Nov. 16.
“We make it new and fresh every year,” she said. “I stick with the traditional story and then add in splashes of unexpected treasures. You have to come see it if you want to know what they are!”
This year’s production marks Oberstein’s second year as artistic director, though she has been involved in the Nutcracker one way or another, including performing onstage or working on set or with props, since the 1980s.
“The whole Nutcracker is about a dream, and it’s a dream thing for me to be doing,” she said.
Rhoslyn Anderson also returns for the second year in her capacity as lead choreographer. Having grown up dancing in the Nutcracker, this is her 14th year being involved with the show. Jennifer Norton, executive director for Pier One Theatre, is serving as the technical director for the Nutcracker. Homer Mayor Ken Castner also returns as producer.
“My choreographers and set designers, we’ve all worked on numerous projects together in the past for the Nutcracker productions and Pier One Theatre,” Oberstein said. “It’s really one happy family. It’s all theater. We’re all working toward the same end, and that’s a great production for Homer.”
A longtime Homer holiday tradition, the Nutcracker Ballet is put together through vast community collaboration involving Homer High School students, members of Pier One Theatre, Homer residents, and more. This year’s cast is one of the largest to date, according to Oberstein, with more than 80 cast members, the majority of whom are counted among Homer’s youth.
Anderson said that among the new and exciting things in this year’s performance is more partner dancing.
“It’s fun for all ages,” she told Homer News on Friday, Nov. 17. “It usually happens with the core groups or older people, but this year there’s more partner dancing across the board, from young kids to adults.”
Many of those involved with producing the Nutcracker are alumni performers or crewmembers, Oberstein noted.
“We are losing all the seniors — they won’t be in the ballet next year. It’s a huge loss, because some of them have been doing the Nutcracker for 10 years,” she said. “But the good news is they’ve been amazing role models for the younger kids, and there are a dozen that are just about ready to step into their toe-shoes.”
The graduating seniors include dancers Talli Dalke, Christina Platter, Ireland Styvar and Johanna Wickstrom and production crew members Ashton Brown, Cain Miller, Kay Bartel, Poppy Smith and Elsa Milne.
While the Nutcracker ballet traditionally takes place in the beginning of December, right in the middle of the holiday season, preparations for the show begin much earlier. According to Oberstein, the first production meeting was held in the spring of this year, and costume-building began in the summer. Auditions took place in August, with rehearsals and set-building beginning shortly after. The cast and crew will remain busy with rehearsals up to opening night.
“We are using super glue and thread to make an entire world come to life,” Oberstein said. “And we just love working together toward the same end.”