A magical Christmas story for all ages, “The Nutcracker,” returns to Ahwatukee Foothills for its 12th year this season.
Ahwatukee’s “Nutcracker,” put on by Dance Studio 111, is unique because it’s performed completely by young, local dancers. This year, the cast consists of about 80 dancers from ages 3 to 21.
The story of “The Nutcracker” begins with a young girl named Clara and her brother, Fritz, at their family’s annual Christmas party. As the family is celebrating and dancing, their godfather, Drosselmeyer, a toy maker, arrives with gifts for the children. He gives Clara the best gift of all — “The Nutcracker.”
As Clara drifts away to seep for the night she dreams that her Nutcracker has come to life and has to fight the Mouse King. Once he defeats the Mouse King he turns into a real prince and carries Clara away on a magical journey.
Along the way they see angels dancing on clouds and once they reach the land of sweets, the Sugar Plum Fairy takes them inside the candy castle and throws a festival with dances from all over the world. The night only ends when everyone is brought together to say good night to Clara and the Nutcracker Prince.
This year, the dancers that play Clara and Fritz are real life brother and sister, Jasmine and Jeremy Bassham.
“There were other Nutcrackers around the Valley, but not in our community,” said Kimberly Lewis, producer of the annual production. “We’re giving children the opportunity to perform this magical Nutcracker at a very young age, and not have to be at a professional level. Children are always looking for opportunities to perform. They spend hours, days, weeks in their classes at their dance studios, and the purpose of all this training is to get on stage and share their talent. We didn’t have a Nutcracker in our community so with the help of Jill Hammond and other staff members we were able to develop it. This year we celebrate our 12th year. It just gives kids so many opportunities to perform in a classic.”
Many of the dancers are returning dancers. The dancers who play Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy began performing in the show years ago as baby mice. Each year, the children improve and strive for a bigger role, Lewis said.
The cast had been preparing for the show every weekend since August. It’s a large time commitment from the children that Lewis says really pays off. It’s a show perfect for all ages.
“The entire performance, with intermission, is only about an hour and 45 minutes,” Lewis said. “It’s geared towards children, so children as young as 2 years of age can enjoy the magic. We have clouds that come out and snow falling in the theater, there’s a lot of wonderful special effects that really keep the children’s interest.”
The show will have three performances at the Desert Vista Fine Arts Theatre on Friday Dec. 16, and two shows on Saturday, Dec. 17.
The matinee on Saturday will end with the crowd signing Jingle Bells and a surprise visit from Santa Claus. The audience will be welcomed on stage as Christmas music plays, and the cast comes out to greet them for photos and autographs in Candy Land.
Clara, the Nutcracker and the Mouse King are also willing to come to your group. Visits can be scheduled through Davey Trujillo, at (480) 332-0699. For no cost Clara will read the story of “The Nutcracker” and the group will bring six tickets to give away.
“It’s just a magical production,” Lewis said. “If you want something magical to do this holiday season, I suggest getting together with family, friends, loved ones, groups, and coming out to see us. It’s a great way to spend the holidays. The dancers are beautiful inside and out, and they will shine on that stage.
“We really appreciate the community’s support by attending our performances. We want to continue to bring this tradition to our community for years to come, and generations to enjoy. In order to do that, we do need the support of the community to come out and see the performances.”
Tickets are on sale from $14 to $30 with assigned seating. They can be purchased at Dance Studio 111, 4910 E. Chandler Blvd., Suite 111, or by calling (480) 706-6040.
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