Lifestyle

Whidbey Playhouse hosts Nutcracker

Mara Powers, 10, flips upside-down in an Arabian dance scene.  - Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times
Mara Powers, 10, flips upside-down in an Arabian dance scene.
— image credit: Liz Burlingame/Whidbey News-Times

The arrival of “The Nutcracker” means that it’s holiday time, and the Whidbey Playhouse has a spirited production in store for Oak Harbor.

Choreographed by 19-year ballet instructor Diane Geragotelis, “The Nutcracker” tells the familiar story of how, after a Christmas Eve party, a little girl named Clara helps a magic nutcracker battle some mischievous mice. She then travels to an enchanted realm ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy.

In the world of “The Nutcracker,” there are good friends, loving families and magic lies everywhere.

This holiday classic last appeared on the playhouse stage in the late ‘90s, which Geragotelis also choreographed. However, in open casting, the director chose actors rather than dancers and Geragotelis had to revise her steps.

This time around, Geragotelis was given full creative control. She cast experienced ballerinas from her studio, The Ballet Slipper.

“I’m able to choreograph to what my dancers can do,” she said.

The result is a technically complex ballet, with as many as 30 dancers appearing onstage at once.

Ten-year-old Mara Powers plays a sweet Clara, whose lively dancing and facial expressions help mold the story. She began dancing at age four.

Meiko Parton appears as the Nutcracker and cavalier, and is one of the few actors Geragotelis cast. While it’s his first go at ballet, Parton explodes on the stage and pulls off high-flying leaps and demis at the level of advanced dancers.

“The Nutcracker” is rounded out by dancers who embody all the phrases associated with good ballet. In the medley of dances (Arabian, Russian) there were splits, lifts, kicks and exquisite shapes.

It’s all contained in a Victorian-style set and flourished with rich costumes designed by Geragotelis. The transition from the rollicking Christmas party in the beginning to a dream-like world is an eye-pleaser.

There are eight performances this month, Dec. 11, 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20. Evening performances on Fridays and Saturdays will be at 7 p.m. and matinees will be at 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Geragotelis said “The Nutcracker” is a holiday tradition, and the Whidbey Playhouse production could save you a drive.

“You don’t have to go to Seattle,” she said. “We have it here.”

Tickets are on sale now, and can be purchased by contacting the Whidbey Playhouse at 679-2237, or by email to office@whidbeyplayhouse.com. They are $15 for adults and seniors and $10 for youth.

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