HCA actors go ‘on display’ to promote upcoming 'Nutcracker'

HCA actors go ‘on display’ to promote upcoming 'Nutcracker'
Dave Mast

Lydia Johnson, left, and Brayley Mullet strike a pose in the storefront window at Miller's Creamery in Millersburg as part of their promotion for the upcoming presentation of "The Nutcracker" by the Holmes Center for the Arts Dec. 10-12.


Anyone can send out fliers and email blasts, take out ads or hit social media to promote an upcoming event, but the group of actors from Holmes Center for the Arts found an ingenious way to promote its upcoming presentation of "The Nutcracker" at Ohio Star Theater Dec. 10-12.

Rather than promote the show through words, the actors chose to instead promote it with themselves.

More than a dozen actors in the Christmas recital donned their costumes and became part of the storefronts during Historic Downtown Millersburg’s recent Christmas Open House and Chocolate Walk on Saturday, Nov. 13.

The actors struck a pose in several area shop storefronts of favorites like the Sugar Plum Fairy, Clara Stahlbaum, Hans-Peter (aka The Nutcracker), the Mouse King and Drosselmeyer.

Holley Johnson, HCA director, said the opportunity to experience something new and exciting was good for the growth of the aspiring local actors.

“We spend a lot of time preparing for the show, and so many of these young people are naturals,” Johnson said of the cast. “They know what they are doing, and they know how to strike a pose and be a part of the storefront. It makes you feel like you’re in New York City a little more than Millersburg.”

The troop has been busy rehearsing for "The Nutcracker," which will include shows Friday and Saturday, Dec. 10-11 at 7 p.m. and a matinee on Sunday, Dec. 12 at 2 p.m. In addition, there will be a unique show on Dec. 11 at 2 p.m. that Johnson said is a shorter one-hour version that is geared toward people who haven’t experienced the ballet before. She said it also is ideal for families with young children.

“It’s an ideal show to bring the kids to because we have some added elements they can enjoy,” Johnson said.

In addition to the shorter matinee, the HCA will present The Sugar Plum Tea immediately following the Saturday showing. It will include a tea party full of sweets where the kids can interact with some of the show’s characters. They can have their pictures taken with the characters, and the event will include a craft for the kids.

“It’s a little Disneyesque because the kids can mingle with the characters they see in the show,” Johnson said. “'The Nutcracker' is one of those shows that is synonymous with Christmas, and even if someone has seen it with us before, the actors continue to get better and better, and the show is unique year after year.”

The window showcases saw several young actors taking their place in a storefront, striking a pose and holding it. They would alter their pose from time to time, but the group did an excellent job of staying in character as people passed by and watched them.

Brayley Mullet was one of the performers who donned Nutcracker apparel and found a spot in one of the downtown Millersburg storefront windows to pose for passersby.

Mullet has been part of the HCA for six years and said this type of opportunity is a great experience for the group.

“This is a new tradition we just started, so it is exciting to get involved in something new,” Mullet said. “It’s fun to get dressed up in our costumes and help promote the show. We put a lot of work into the show, and I encourage everyone to come and see it.”

Lydia Johnson has been a member of the HCA for a decade and said this opportunity only adds to the allure of being part of the performing ensemble.

“I think this helps us because it helps us develop our character and it also displays the talent that will be part of the show,” Johnson said. “I think people would be surprised at how much time and energy we put into creating this show. Promoting the show in the downtown windows is something that is really fun, and we have been looking forward to it.”

Visitors to Millersburg walked the sidewalks during the chocolate walk, and once they realized what was transpiring, they joyfully took in the performances window by window.

Johnson said this type of event helps not only set the tone and promote the upcoming show, but also it helps energize the actors and helps them dive deeper into their character roles.

Anyone wishing to learn more about the performances or purchase tickets may visit the HCA website at www.holmescenterforthearts.org/nutcracker.

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