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‘The Nutcracker’

A night at the ballet

Northwest Guardian

Published: 02:22PM November 30th, 2017

Northwest Guardian/2016

Cast members perform a dance from the “Kingdom of Snow” scene during SKIES Unlimited’s 2016 production of “The Nutcracker” at Evergreen Theater on Lewis Main.

If you go

What: SKIES Unlimited’s production of “The Nutcracker”

Where: Evergreen Theater, Second Division Drive, Lewis Main

When: Dec. 8-9 at 7 p.m.; Dec. 10 at 2 p.m.

Cost: $5 per ticket. General seating only. No food or drinks permitted in the theater. Seating will begin 30 minutes before show time. Tickets are available through Leisure Travel Services inside Bowl Arena Lanes on Liggett Avenue, Lewis Main, during regular business hours. A limited number of tickets also will be available at the door just prior to the productions.

It’s time to celebrate the holidays with the Sugar Plum Fairy, Mouse King, Clara, the Nutcracker and more beloved characters from “The Nutcracker.”

With more than double the cast from last year’s show, the 65-cast member production hosted by Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s SKIES Unlimited will light up the stage at the Evergreen Theater on Lewis Main Dec. 8 to 10.

This is the second year SKIES Unlimited has produced the full-length ballet, and it’s expected to be even bigger and better than the premier production, according to Melissa “Mel” Massey-Maroni, SKIES Unlimited dance instructor and director of “The Nutcracker.”

“I was blessed with incredible dancers this year; we grew a lot, which gave us a lot to work with,” Massey-Maroni said.

Last year’s cast also was a talented crew, she said, but several of the stars of that show moved this year. Massey-Maroni directs the show and will reprise her role from last year, the Mouse King.

Ten-year-old, Jonathan Keyes, a student at Hillside Elementary School, will take on the role of the Nutcracker. His siblings, Avion, 8, and Brooklyn, 4, and 4-year-old cousin, Marley-Rain Loketi also are in the show.

“We have a strong familial tie this year; there are so many siblings in the show — they came in groups,” Massey-Maroni said.

Major Robert Nadeau, a biochemist and deputy chief of the core laboratory at Madigan Army Medical Center, was cast as Uncle Drosselmeyer. SKIES Unlimited co-director Cindy Arnold, who portrayed the role last year, said she’s enjoying watching and supporting the show this year.

“I love watching Bob (rehearse as) Uncle Drosselmeyer,” Arnold said. “It’s opened up a completely different world.”

This is Nadeau’s first play since he portrayed the Tin Man in his eighth-grade production of “The Wizard of Oz.”

His 5-year-old daughter, Emelia, was cast in the show. Since a friend and his daughter also were in the production, Nadeau agreed to give it a try.

“I was surprised to be cast as Uncle Drosselmeyer, but it’s been a very fun and amazing experience,” Nadeau said, adding that his favorite part of playing Uncle Drosselmeyer is the interaction between his character and that of 8-year-old Dacy Emmons, who portrays the leading role of Clara.

Last year, Dacy was in the show as a dancing flower.

“Dacy has really blossomed,” Massey-Maroni said. “She has taken extra classes (at SKIES Unlimited) and is an exceptional dancer. Together, Clara and Uncle Drosselmeyer have amazing chemistry and work so well together.”

There are several expansions to this year’s production, including the addition of an advanced ballet class of 3- to- 5-year-old children who will open the second act of the production as bakers.

“It’s an overdose of cute,” Arnold said, as Massey-Maroni described the children’s costuming and trays of baked goods.

Fifteen-year-old SKIES- Unlimited pointe student, Sarah Moore, will portray the Snow Queen — also a new addition to this year’s show — and 10-year-old advanced dancer and prepointe student, Dori Emmons, plays another new character, the Dewdrop Fairy.

Dori will be a soloist in the “Waltz of the Flowers.” Ballerina and SKIES- Unlimited ballet instructor Abbey Moorehead also will reprise her role as the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Children from SKIES Unlimited’s gymnastics program will be another new addition to the show, performing acrobatics with the head of SKIES Unlimited’s gymnastics program, Denise Ruffner, who was cast as another new character, Mother Ginger.

“It really speaks to the evolution of our program that we’ve been able to expand like this,” Arnold said.

The show should be a delight for young and old, Massey-Maroni said, with familiar music, sparkling sets and elaborate costuming. There will be a photo opportunity with cast members at the end of each production.

“Children and adults can get their photo taken with their favorite cast member,” she said. “It’s sure to (create) magical moments — especially for the kids.”