This year, 'Nutcracker' coming into area homes

This year, 'Nutcracker' coming into area homes
DLCarlson Photography

Wayne Center Ballet dancers Ashley Schroer, Brianna Shearer, Alayna Green, Oneli Basnagala and Sammy Amier will appear in this year's holiday production of "The Nutcracker" on Dec. 5. Due to COVID-19, this year's holiday production will be broadcast on MCTV and streaming on YouTube and Facebook.


Wayne Center Ballet will bring the tradition of "The Nutcracker" to homes across the region on Saturday, Dec. 5.

Due to COVID-19, this year's holiday production will be broadcast on MCTV and streaming on YouTube and Facebook.

Faced with the challenge of bringing the ballet to a large audience while respecting current COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions, WCA staff partnered with regional production company Red Point Digital to film and professionally produce the performance.

The actual filming took place in mid-November at Wooster High School.

Dance program coordinator/artistic director Brian Murphy worked closely with the production team to bring the story to life in this new format.

"It's been a challenging year," Murphy said, "but we feel that the dancers, parents and staff have really stepped up to make this production possible. We're excited to bring 'The Nutcracker' to the homes in our community."

Murphy said it was a challenge to shorten the usually two-hour production down to 45 minutes as a video production.

“Viewers watching on video don’t have the same attention span as in a traditional theater performance, so we had to decide what to cut out and what would stay,” Murphy said. “As I understood how the narrative was going to flow, I knew I had to keep the dance while cutting some of the acting."

Katie MacCutcheon, associate director of the Community School of Dance, played a large part in the choreography and socially distanced rehearsals, Murphy said.

Murphy said another challenge was all the steps they had to take in order to follow the safety protocols for COVID-19.

“We had dancers practicing in separate rooms and studios, kids learning from home,” he said. “It really was quite extraordinary. I have never seen anything like this in all my years in dance.”

The only rehearsal together was the day just before the filming.

“It was just amazing how it all came together,” Murphy said.

Murphy said parent volunteers were critical to the production’s success. “They really went above and beyond,” he said.

Murphy said volunteers made the costumes and the sets, set up an online boutique, and made masks individualized for each part.

Murphy said WCA executive director James Foxx was an important part of the production's success. “He’s just such a positive person, and he saw this as an interesting opportunity,” Murphy said.

”Wayne Center Ballet is especially thankful to our sponsors and community partners for allowing us to bring this production to the community for free,” said Nichole Fehrman, marketing coordinator for the Wayne Center for the Arts.

"The Nutcracker" will air on MCTV at 7 p.m. on Dec. 5, followed by replays throughout the holiday season. WCA also will stream the Dec. 5 premiere on the organization’s Facebook and YouTube channels.

While some things have changed, the classic story of Clara and her Nutcracker Prince remains the same. Local student dancers portray party guests, battling mice, dancing snowflakes, imaginative sweets and other traditional characters.

Wayne Center Ballet dancers performing principal roles this year include eighth-grade Wooster High School student Emma Graziano as Clara, Wayne County Career Center student Brianna Shearer as the Sugar Plum Fairy, sophomore Wooster High School student Duncan Grimes as the Nutcracker, sophomore Smithville High School student Alayna Green as the Snow Queen, senior Wooster High School student Oneli Basnagala and freshman Smithville High School student Olivia Murray as Dew Drop Fairies, and eighth-grade Massillon Junior High School student Mary Hersher as the Rat King.

WCB faculty dancer Ethan Michael Lee will make a guest appearance as Drosselmeyer.

Local community partnerships will enhance this year’s digital event in several ways, according to Fehrman.

Boreman Norton Cook Wealth Partners provided sponsorship for the videography portion of the production. Downtown Wooster restaurants City Square Steakhouse, Spoon Market, Muddy’s and The Old Jaol are offering takeout specials for the evening on Dec. 5 with a portion of the proceeds supporting the performance. Also new this year, an online Nutcracker Boutique will offer merchandise themed to the production, along with souvenirs, memorabilia and opportunities for viewers to recognize their favorite dancer.

Further information about the production is available on the WCA website at or by calling 330-264-2787.

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