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Classic ballet to take Geyer stage

| Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Performers in the ballet “The Nutcracker” include (front) Marina Stefano, 17, of Bullskin as Clara and (back row, from left) Camry Smouse, 16, of Mt. Pleasant; Alexandra Shaw, 15 of Uniontown; Jennifer Keefer, 16 of Youngwood; Keri Kintigh, 16 of Hunker; and Sydnee Durbin, 16 of Uniontown, who will be performing the role of the Sugarplum Fairy.

All of the grace and beauty of the classic ballet “The Nutcracker” will be presented live on stage at the Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale this weekend, bringing talent together from the Fay-West area for one breathtaking weekend.

“There is a lot of talent in this show,” co-director and co-choreographer John Wagner of Connellsville said of the perennial Christmas classic whose haunting music by Tchaikovsky carries some of the most memorable music of all time. “We have a really good mixture of dancers, starting as young as 5 and up.”

The ballet is co-directed by Darlene Trout of Mt. Pleasant, and this is the pair's second time bringing the ballet to the Geyer stage.

“It's a good show,” Trout said. “Everyone has really been working hard since the beginning of October.”

The ballet tells the story of a very special Christmas Eve with a very special toy, and a small girl named Clara whose dream unfolds before the audience's eyes in all the splendor and awe befitting the timeless production.

Playing the role of Clara is Marina Stefano, 17, of Bullskin, who is reprising the role that she played two years ago.

“It's every girl's dream to play Clara, and I am so incredibly fortunate to be playing her twice,” Stefano said.

Wagner and Trout changed the choreography a bit for the production, and Stefano said that the difficulty of the show lends well to its overall quality.

“It's a little bit of a stretch for me, but I am enjoying the challenge,” Stefano said, adding that she has enjoyed being involved in dance for more than 10 years. “Everyone in this show is so talented, and we all get along so great. It's really been a wonderful experience.”

The show features a cast of 40, and Wagner said that in addition to the chorography change, set pieces and props, as well as a few special effects, have been added to make the production different.

“There were things that we did last year that I wasn't thrilled with, and there were things that we didn't have the chance to try,” Wagner said. “We want people who are planning to come again this year to have a new experience.”

The Geyer began presenting the ballet two years ago, and theater manager Kristen Tunney said the annual performance is one that many look forward to seeing.

“The attendance has been consistently good for the past two years, and we're anticipating another good year this year,” Tunney said. “We're making it an annual tradition because it provides an opportunity for a lot of kids who only dance, and many of those who participate in the ‘Nutcracker' are only in that show. However, it is also a show with many of our regulars.”

The ballet was started when the theater acquired a grant that was used specifically to fund costuming and sets for the performance.

“We are really proud of the investment we made in tech and costuming for the show,” Tunney said, “and we hope that audiences will keep making us a part of their Christmas tradition for years to come.”

Wagner agreed that the show could become a wonderful annual gathering for families.

“I would love to see families come to ‘The Nutcracker' and make it a new family tradition, where people could bring their children, whose children would then one day bring their own children,” Wagner said. “I hope that everyone will get a lot of enjoyment out of the show when they see it. It would be great to see traditions start here.”

The ballet will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 15. Tickets are $15.

For details, call 724-887-0887, or visit

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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