Young performers pack — then bring down — the house with The Nutcracker

December 18, 2018

NEEDLES — There are probably few major metropolitan areas that don’t have a ballet troupe or a theater group that portrays the 1816 story of The Nutcracker around Christmastime. There are probably even fewer that present a performance as enthusiastic, warmly human, and at times athletic as that performed over a two-night run by the Needles High School Drama Club and Dance Trax 51.

Directed by Gabriela Belt and choreographed by Graci Weiss, Needles’ youngsters packed the house for the second year in what is becoming a tradition in the NHS auditorium.

Belt’s synopsis reveals The Nutcracker and the Mouse King was originally a fairy tale when it was penned by E.T.A. Hoffmann. French writer Alexandre Dumas rewrote it as a children’s story. Composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikowsky and choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov up-cycled it to a ballet in 1892.

The storyline starts with Rowan Breaux as Frau Drosselmeyer bringing magical gifts of dancing dolls to the Stahlbaum family Christmas party. Ryly Payson as Clara receives the Nutcracker, which later comes to life to battle the ‘Rat King’ and, revealed as a prince, spirits young Clara away to the Kingdom of the Sweets.

Coy Cameron and Teran Woody brought their skill set from the state runners-up Mustangs football team to bear as the battling Nutcracker and Rat King.

The stage featured richly elaborate sets, makeup and costumes turned out by the students of Belt’s Theater Arts Class.

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