By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
When the candy-colored tutus and sets of The Nutcracker reemerge from their year-long nap, Lone Star Ballet dancers and staff know it's Christmastime again.
"We all love this show," LSB artistic director Vicki McLean said. "It's wonderful to be in the theater with all of the gorgeous setpieces. It's like going home for Christmas when we do this show each year."
The 2016 version of The Nutcracker will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 and 6 p.m. Sunday in the Amarillo Civic Center Complex Auditorium, 401 S. Buchanan St. Tickets are $13 to $48, plus fees.
The ballet dates back to 1892 when Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov choreographed a score by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, based on Alexander Dumas' adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffman's story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Decades later, the ballet became a Christmas-season tradition across the United States, including in Amarillo, where the late Neil Hess first staged it at Tascosa High School in the late 1960s. LSB incorporated in 1976 and has staged the ballet in the Civic Center since 1978.
The production underwent a $1.3 million redesign in 2007, with new sets, costumes and choreography. And even now, the ballet company finds ways to tweak the show to add new elements, such as a new puppeteer (danced by Anthony Femath) who'll appear in the opening street scenes with a mysterious puppet that foreshadows the action to come.
"There's a lot of work put into all of this, but it's a joyous work," McLean said. "It starts pretty much the week after we finish the October show ... but (costume director) Elaine Seaton's costume work is year-round. She's always mending and fixing and making sure they're ready to wear."
Guest performers Savannah Lowery of the New York Ballet (returning from 2015) and Nicholas Coppula of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (new to the Amarillo production) will perform as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her cavalier, but the rest of the sprawling cast is made up of LSB's professional company, junior company and the young dancers in its academy program.
"We're delighted to see all of the younger dancers who have grown up through our system taking on some of the adult roles," McLean said. "They are really mature dancers with mature technique. It's really exciting to see that happen."