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Holiday joy comes from so many things:  a sparkling ornament, a favorite fancy dress, a special toy, a favorite song. Each year, Wilton Dance Studio’s production of The Nutcracker ballet showcases all the beautiful details that make this the most wonderful time of the year. This 22nd annual performance features more than 50 dancers from Wilton.

The full-scale production with professional, local artisan-made sets and costumes includes more than 80 students and adults from seven area towns. The ballet will be performed on Sunday, Dec. 15 at 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the Wilton High School’s Clune Center for the Performing Arts.

“Two things really set our ballet apart from other productions–the quality of the dancing, of course, but also the attention to every detail that brings the story to life and elevates the experience for our audience,” says studio owner and creative director Brenda Froehlich.

“Our dancers invest in many hours of rehearsal, nearly every weekend from the end of September until the show. They have a great time with their dance friends, but also learn what it takes to be a true ensemble and come together to create some holiday magic,” said Froehlich, who is a Wilton native.

The production owes much of its professional sparkle and shine to a number of local artisans who have contributed to the costumes and sets over many years. Each year, costume are refreshed to keep them sparkly and bright. In addition, audience members can watch for some special details as well:

  • The artwork on Drosselmeyer’s toy bag in the party scene was created just for Wilton Dance Studio by Joni Johns Lerner, a 25-year veteran the New York professional costume industry. Examples of her work can be seen on the stages of the Broadway, touring and Japan companies of The Lion King; the Broadway and National Tour of Thoroughly Modern Millie; and Wicked.
  • Architect Dan Conlon designed and built the clock in Dr. and Mrs. Stahlbaumn’s living room, also in the party scene.
  • Howard Corsa created the Nutcracker and Rat Queen’s swords.
  • The Finnecy Family, longtime Wilton residents, created the shimmering, fanciful ornaments for the Land of Sweets portion of the ballet.
  • Froehlich, also a jewelry designer, handcrafted many of the tiaras, headpieces and necklaces using genuine Swarovski crystals.

The audience gets a chance to see some of these details with a new tradition begun last year:  a meet-and-greet and photo opportunity immediately following the 1 p.m. show. All are invited to come say hello and see the beautiful costumes up close. Younger audience members especially love the chance to take a photo with their favorite dancers.

Wilton Dance Studio’s Nutcracker is designed to suit audiences of all ages while also challenging its dance students, who change roles and learn more complex choreography each year. The performance length is manageable for young children and does not require an intermission. The ballet follows the traditional story of Clara and her Nutcracker prince from E.T.A. Hoffman’s The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, with music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Professional sets and elegant costumes complete the high-quality production.

The Wilton Dance Studio production of The Nutcracker will be on Sunday, December 15, 2019 at 1 and 4:30 p.m. at Wilton High School’s Clune Performing Arts Center. Advance ticket sales have closed, but there are plenty of good seats still available. The box office open 30 minutes prior to each show to purchase tickets the day of the show.

Pictured above:

Sitting (L-R):  Miller-Driscoll first graders Sophie Faraji and Kathryn Love (Sugar Plum Attendants); Miller-Driscoll 3rd grader Emma Unger (Cherub); preschooler Abigail Unger (Sheep); Cider Mill School 3rd grader Ryann Tobey; and Miller-Driscoll 1st graders Emily Connell and Jillian Tobey (Sugar Plum Attendants).

Second row (L-R):  Middlebrook students Jamila Santos and Lauren Minor (Snow Flurries); Miller-Driscoll 2nd grader Sydney Skott and kindergartener Sophie Froehlich (Cherub); preschooler Ella Marr (Sheep); Cider Mill School 3rd grader Alex Marr (Cherub); and Middlebrook students Rowan McGrath and Grace Johnson.

Third row (L-R):  Middlebrook students Bella Albers (Party Child) and Eva Albers (Snow); Wilton High School freshman Fiona Conway (Flower); Middlebrook 8th grader Stacia Dooley (Snow); returning guest performers, husband and wife team Sara Froehlich (Arabian) and Brian Froehlich (Snow King and Sugar Plum Cavalier), WHS senior Kirstin Finnecy (Arabian), sophomore Elizabeth Vermeulen (Ballerina Doll), junior Caroline Assef (Thorn), freshman Alexandra Lyon (Rag Doll), and sophomore Merideth Mobyed (Soldier Doll); and Middlebrook student Grace Todd (Fritz).

Back row (L-R):  WHS juniors Kristina Torkelsen and Tori DiRocco (both Arabian).

Photo Credit, main image:  Donner Photographic; other photos:  Spencer Lasky