Nutcracker cast and crew

The 2021 holiday season officially gets underway in this area on Thursday, December 2, at 7:00 p.m. at Fisher Auditorium in the Performing Arts Center when IUP Dance Theater, IUP Symphony Orchestra, the Mahoning Valley Ballet, and guests present the perennial favorite, “A Journey to the Land of Sweets” excerpts from The Nutcracker, with music direction under Alexandra Dee, directed by Joan Van Dyke. The elaborate production features more than 95 dancers and musicians performing to the music of Tchaikovsky. The performers, ranging from preschoolers to senior citizens, come from Punxsutawney, Clearfield, Clarion, DuBois, Brookville, Indiana, Pittsburgh, Greensburg, Philadelphia, and the surrounding areas.

Commenting on the show, Van Dyke, artistic director and choreographer, noted “The Nutcracker has become a holiday tradition around the world, especially in America and Canada. Tchaikovsky’s unforgettable music and the story itself combine all the elements of beauty and fantasy. When you add the gracefulness of the dancers and the impact of special effects and lighting, there are so many things to please the audience. People can see the show several times and still pick up details they had never noticed before.”

Brimming over with familiar characters, the ballet revolves around Clara, a young girl who receives the gift of an enchanted nutcracker. This year’s journey begins with Olive Claypool, the housekeeper at the Stalbaum’s home in 1863 Austria. Olive tells the magical story of The Nutcracker and is frightened off the stage by life-size mice. Other favorite characters include the Sugar Plum Fairy, Chocolate, Candy Canes, Tea, Marzipan, Coffee, and the unforgettable Mother Ginger! The ballet culminates with the magical “Waltz of the Flowers.”

Principal characters and dancers include Brianna Adkins, Isabelle Bartruff, Sidney Burkett, Caitlin Chavis, Lydia Domines, Ava Drozd, Brooke Henshaw, Rachel Kovach, Amy Kukula, Lilly Haugh, Briea Heckler, PiperJordan, Haley Magness, Julia McAdoo, Lydia McBee, Jenna Pfingstler, Michaela Rentko, Emily Ruggieri, Samantha Stahl, Bricelyn Webber, Lydia Zuccalotto, and special guest appearances by Bryce Jache, Trevor Runco, Flo West, and other community members, all accompanied by the IUP Symphony Orchestra.

“A Journey to the Land of Sweets” is a holiday feast for the eyes and ears not to be missed. Sponsored by the Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance, the Music Department, and the Student Co-op at IUP and Van Dyke and Company.

Tickets are only $5 each and will be available at the door one hour prior to performance. Tickets are also available online on the Lively Arts website. Patrons who have questions or would like assistance with their ticket orders may call the Lively Arts office at 724-357-2787 (ARTS) Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. when classes are in session.