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About The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current | View Entire Issue (Nov. 30, 2017)
NOVEMBER 30, 2017 // 11
dancing around her and she faints.
When she wakes she is caught up in
the toy soldiers who have come to life.
The now life-size Nutcracker leads the
The Nutcracker and the Mouse
King duel and both are mortally
wounded. However, the Nutcracker,
saved by Clara’s belief in him, is trans-
formed into a real-life prince.
Dr. Drosselmeyer and the Nutcrack-
er Prince escort Clara to the Kingdom
of Snow. After viewing special dances
in the Kingdom, Clara and the Nut-
cracker Prince move on to the King-
dom of Sweets, where the Kingdom
Princess, the Dream Fairies and little
angels greet them.
After her enchanting adventures,
Clara’s dream fades to a memory.
Keeping it fresh
The theater has performed “The
Nutcracker” annually for more than
four decades. So what keeps the pro-
For one thing, veteran cast members
make the show better while serving as
role models for the new and younger
dancers to look up to.
“There are new kids in the produc-
tion each year, and also the choreog-
raphy changes,” said Dan Sutherland,
who has played Dr. Drosselmeyer for
more than 20 years.
“The Nutcracker” is a show for
family audiences, and many of the
dancers are family — literally and
The Barbic family, for example, has
a long history of performing in “The
The eldest Barbic daughter, Eliza,
danced the role of Clara.
At age 11, Sabrina Barbic was one
of the youngest dancers to play the part
in 2003. She danced as Clara with her
brother Thomas as the Snow Prince,
marking the first time in the theater’s
history that a brother and sister have
danced together in the production.
When she was just 4 years old, Ani-
ta Barbic told a reporter she was going
to be the next Clara. She didn’t dance
the role the following year, but she did
Now her little sister Sophia is danc-
ing. The girls’ mother, Debbie Barbic,
sews costumes and makes alterations.
This year, among the brother and
sister combos are Milly and Oscar
Gustafson, Marisabel and Nathaniel
COLIN MURPHEY PHOTO
Dancers rehearse a scene from “The Nutcracker” at Astoria High School. More photos online at CoastWeekend.com
Condit, Abigail and Logan Mossman,
and Lillian and Max Bigby. The sib-
lings are dancing with each other in the
Prologue’s party scene.
Dancing and acting
Tchaikovsky’s score is performed
by the Little Ballet Theatre Orchestra,
directed by Cory Pedersen
“It’s amazing that we have a full or-
chestra in this small area,” Ann Brown,
stage manager of Little Ballet Theatre,
said. “I have seen other ‘Nutcracker’
performances at Oregon Ballet Theater
and Pacific Northwest Ballet, but I
think ours is one of the best.”
Sure, audiences will see dancing,
but acting is also a major element.
“The dancers who are the young
ladies in ‘The Nutcracker’ must look
surprised all the time,” Peterson said.
“And the dancer who is Clara must
act as if she is a little girl.”
This year, Nara Van De Grift, an
Astoria High School junior, plays
Clara. “It means a lot to me to be
dancing a role that brings joy to oth-
ers,” she said.
Many hands bring the magic of this
There are the dancers, of course,
that audiences see as polished per-
formers. But there is much work done
Special nonskid floors must be
installed to ensure the dancers’ safety,
and sets need to be taken out of stor-
age and brought to the high school.
On performance nights, backstage
volunteers help dancers with quick
costume changes. They also help keep
dancers waiting in the wings calm and
“What I really appreciate about
this is how it has built my children’s
confidence,” said Elly Condit, of
Astoria, whose children Marisabel
and Nathaniel have been dancing for
about six years.
Parents of the dancers participate
in many ways. Some dance onstage
while others work behind the scenes,
creating and repairing props and cos-
tumes. (One of the most popular props
is the giant turkey leg carried by the
mice in Act I, Scene 2.)
Astoria Mayor Arline LaMear,
recovering from torn rotator cuff
surgery, is anxiously awaiting the
removal of the brace from her left
arm. She has a part in the opening
scene, which originally called for her
Instead, LaMear, playing a mayor,
will walk across the stage, waving at
the audience. “The Nutcracker has
always been part of the Christmas
season for me,” she said. The brace
comes off the day before the show
After both the Saturday and Sun-
day matinees, children are invited
onstage to meet the cast and receive
a candy cane from the Sugar Plum
Fairy. After the Saturday evening
performance, the audience is invited
to a cookie party in the commons area
of Astoria High School.
The Saturday matinee is a mil-
Active-duty military members, with
valid military ID, will receive a dollar
off the ticket price. CW