Mercyhurst dancers to appear in 'The Nutcracker'

This coming weekend, the Lake Erie Ballet will present its 52nd annual production of “The Nutcracker” at the historic Warner Theatre in downtown Erie.

Performances will take place Saturday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 19, at 2:30 p.m.

With its bright colors, family friendly atmosphere and general holiday cheer, “The Nutcracker” is a season favorite for many ballet-goers.

“There are a lot of different parts in ‘The Nutcracker’ suited to different age groups,” said Mercyhurst freshman Eliza Davidson, who will appear in the performance. “There is something for everyone.”

Since the Lake Erie Ballet Company is made up mainly of Mercyhurst dancers, they will perform many of the lead roles. The Lake Erie Ballet Company is the professional division above the school.

Sophomore Olivia Boyd will appear as Rose in the “Waltz of the Flowers,” and freshman Linnea Stureson will dance the role of the Snow Queen. Many other Mercyhurst students are featured in supporting leads as well.

Sophomore and Lake Erie Ballet Company apprentice Ana Welsh talked about her experience working on the ballet.

“Dancing in ‘The Nutcracker,’ for me at least, is rewarding. Of course it is hard work and there are lots of rehearsals, but it starts to get exciting when we get to try on the costumes and rehearse on stage because it starts to feel more real,” she said.

This year’s production will also include local artist Carrie Burns-Frase as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Guest artist Ernest Tolentino of Milwaulkee Ballet and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre will dance The Cavalier.

The Saturday show will feature a live orchestra led by Bruce Morton Wright. Joining the orchestra this year will be the Villa Maria Elementary Christmas Choir directed by Katelyn Kurpiewski.

As an added treat, a Friday night open dress rehearsal will include a “Meet the Performers” session with Burns-Frase and Tolentino.

The Sunday afternoon performance will include a Sugar Plum Fairy Party prior to the show where children can meet the many magical characters of the “Nutcracker” story.

In addition to the regular “Nutcracker” performances, the Lake Erie Ballet will host extra shows as part of their Special Performance Series, one for a local elementary school and one for assisted living and special needs patrons.

Tickets for “The Nutcracker” are available through the Erie Civic Center Box office at 814-452-4857 or via the Internet at Ticketmaster. Ticket prices range $12 – $32.