'Tradition of the year': Nutcracker returns to Appell Center stage

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

The story of Clara, the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Nutcracker himself will come alive on the Strand Theatre stage in a one-day matinee.

Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet will be live at the Appell Center at 2 p.m. Sunday. The tradition, which started in 1999, will resume in its 23rd year in York County after it was canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This year's show will feature a large cast, with six professionals and more than 70 students as young as 3, according to Lori Garling, artistic director of Greater York Dance.

Local dance students are invited to audition Saturday for roles in the Moscow Ballet's " Great Russian Nutcracker."

“It’s such a tradition both in York County and across the country,” Garling said.

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by visiting https://appellcenter.org. Prices range from $25.88 to $48.38.

Balcony tickets are sold out, according to the Appell Center website.

This year’s performance will be a traditional retelling of the Nutcracker Ballet. 

The Nutcracker

The challenges of working during a pandemic, of course, remain, Garling said.

For example, one of the lead actors fell ill, which required one of the professionals to step in and perform a double role, she said.

York County’s Nutcracker Ballet, performed by Midstate Ballet of Greater York Dance, is including more children in the show.

“This year we have more early childhood students,” Garling said. “I see the confidence in their eyes — and it’s rewarding to watch that happen.”

This year, four professional guest artists flew from Puerto Rico to be part of the show.

Another professional — York County resident Luis Santiago — will play Clara’s father.

Georgia Zengerle, 10, performs a "Clara" for the Midstate Ballet 20th Nutcracker Season at Greater York Dance, Monday, December 3, 2018. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

With the large cast for this year’s performance, Garling said, it was essential to make the cast diverse as well.

“We have people of all walks of life in the performance; we’re just trying to be inclusive — that's huge for us,” Garling said. “Ballet can not be that way sometimes, and we’re very aware of that.”

The show has a run time of two hours with an intermission.

Garling said she hopes people are as excited for the pas de deux — a 10-minute dance between the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier —  as she is.

“I think it’s the holiday show and tradition of the year,” Garling said.  “Nobody ever leaves The Nutcracker disappointed.”

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at  @tina_locurto. Please consider subscribing to support local journalism.