Classic Tale Comes to Life At Capitol

Maestro Andre Raphel and the Wheeling Symphony present Tchaikovsky’s fairy-tale ballet and favorite holiday tradition, “The Nutcracker,” at the Capitol Theatre in Wheeling for two shows only – at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16, and at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17.

One of the most popular ballets of all time, “The Nutcracker” will feature the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Raphel, professional ballet dancers choreographed by Christopher Bandy with additional choreography provided by Cheryl Pompeo, Kristin Carson, Kim Kafana and Kathleen Gottus, plus a cast of talented, local young dancers.

In addition to the live music, wonderful costumes and set designs, this year’s “Nutcracker” will be more exciting thanks to the Wheeling Symphony auxiliary which will host a Sugar Plum Social pre-performance party for children and their families beginning at noon Saturday, Dec. 17, in the Capitol Theatre ballroom. The party will include a “Nutcracker”-themed activity, lunch and a special presentation by Raphel. Admission is charged for the social; tickets are limited to the first 100.

Children’s photos with “Nutcracker” characters will be available for purchase in the balcony lobby as well as “Nutcracker” memorabilia.

Tickets for “The Nutcracker” and Sugar Plum Social tickets can be purchased at the Wheeling Symphony box office at 1025 Main St. (Mull Center), suite 811, or by calling 304-232-6191 or 800-395-9241.

The concerts are sponsored by Chesapeake Energy and the Lynne and Ben Exley IV Charitable Trust Inc. Media sponsor for these performances is WTOV. The Sugar Plum Social is sponsored by Spillman Thomas & Battle Pllc.

Based on a surreal short story by German writer E.T.A. Hoffmann, “The Nutcracker” tells the tale of Clara, a young girl who dreams of having adventures with the nutcracker she receives for Christmas. The music, the dance, the costumes and the story have combined to make “The Nutcracker” one of the most endearing holiday classics.

“The Nutcracker” is one of the composer’s most popular compositions. The music belongs to the Romantic period and contains some of Tchaikovsky’s most memorable melodies, several of which are used frequently in television and film.

“The Trepak,” or Russian dance, is one of the most recognizable pieces in the ballet, along with the famous “Waltz of the Flowers and March,” as well as the ubiquitous “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.” The ballet contains surprisingly advanced harmonies and a wealth of melodic invention that is (to many) unsurpassed in ballet music.

This year the part of Clara will be performed by Adelaide Estep and Kristina Slivchenko, both of Oglebay Institute’s Youth Ballet Company.

Professional dancers and their roles include Aaron Ingley, Nutcracker Prince; Alan Obuzor, Harlequin and Cavalier; Erin Rivera-Brennand, Columbina and Sugar Plum Fairy; Briana DeFalco, Snow Queen and Arabian; and Christopher Bandy, Drosselmeyer and Arabian.

“The Nutcracker” also will be graced with the artistry of dancers from these schools:

  • All Valley School of Dance/Gymnastics: Alexis Jones, Kamryn Riser, Kayden Jones.
  • Arielettes: Addison Grubler, Claudia Callahan.
  • Burkhart Dancentre: Katherine Adase.
  • Oglebay Institute School of Dance: Amelia Mandel, Jaelee Thompson, Katherine Adase, Molly Henthorne.
  • Oglebay Institute’s Youth Ballet Company: Abby Thomas, Alaysia Botizan, Ali Irvin, Alice Hughs, Ally Carson, Amelia Bandy, Anna Turani, Audra Ream, Audrey Blust, Bailey Stephenson, Carly Stewart, Claire Carson, Erica Strope, Evan Oslund, Jacie Baker, J’Lyse Kafana, Jordan Crow, Katherine Carson, Kelsey Glessner, Laura Tighe, Lexie Kosanovic, Lucy Hartzell, Luke Harto, Maddie Tiu, Maddy Cisar, Maddy Mandel, Madelyn Crawford, Marina McGinley, McKenna Dunbar, Morgan McCool, Peter J. Lim, Rebekah Jones, Sarah Jones, Sydney Glessner and Tyler Harto.
  • Ohio Valley Gymnastics: Claudia Callahan.
  • The Dance Difference: Abby Milhorn.
  • Toni Zeakes Performing Arts Center: Ashleigh Sherman, Mallory Marconi, Stephanie Jane DiSalvio, Taylor Grimm, Victoria Bumba.
  • Turn It Out: McKenna Dunbar, Molly Henthorne.

Party parents include Evan Oslund, Matthew Robinson, Katie Black, Shayna Varner, Audrey Abraham, Peter Lim, Carlito Gilchrist, Sean O’Connell and Jed Shook.

Choreographer and dancer Bandy was born in Parkersburg, where he trained at the Mid-Ohio Valley Ballet School under the direction of Norma and Suzy Gunter for 12 years. While with Mid-Ohio Valley Ballet, he toured all over the state in dozens of productions, including “The Nutcracker.”

Bandy left West Virginia at the age of 17 to study with the Princeton Ballet School in New Jersey, which in turn led to his first job as a professional with American Repertory Ballet. He remained there as a company member for eight years, and his repertoire included the role of Oberon in Graham Lustig’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and nearly every male role in “The Nutcracker,” including The Cavalier and Mother Ginger.

Pittsburgh became his home in 2004. He joined Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, where he danced in the corps de ballet for four years. At PBT, he was featured in roles such as Drosslemeyer and the Nutcracker Prince in Terrence Orr’s “The Nutcracker” and the Mad Hatter in Derek Deane’s “Alice in Wonderland.” He is in his third season with Dance Alloy Theater, Pittsburgh’s premier modern dance company.

Other dancers under Bandy’s direction include:

DeFalco, born in New York City, began her training at the School of American Ballet. She then joined Ballet Etudes Company as a soloist. She also studied with Boston Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Carolina Ballet, Ballet Austin and Rosella Hightower in Cannes, France. Most recently, DeFalco apprenticed with Complexions Contemporary Ballet at the age of 19.

Rivera-Brennand, originally from Santa Fe, graduated from North Carolina School of the Arts while, at the same time, training with American Ballet Theater, Pennsylvania Ballet, Boston Ballet and Dallas Metropolitan Ballet. She has performed principal and soloist roles with Texas Ballet Theater, Los Angeles Ballet, Bruce Wood Dance Company and the Ohio Ballet. She has performed as a guest artist across the country with various companies. Rivera-Brennand is currently a free-lance ballet dancer and a certified Gyrotonic trainer.

Ingley is from Tallahassee, Fla. He trained and performed with Tallahassee Ballet as well as Southern Academy of Ballet Arts under former Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancers Charles Hagan and Natalia Botha. Ingley completed his training at Pacific Northwest Ballet School in Seattle, Wash.

Professionally, Ingley has danced with Fort Worth/Dallas Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Pacific Northwest Ballet. A versatile dancer, he was featured in numerous classical and contemporary roles, and served as Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s principal character artist during his nine seasons with that company. He was featured as Tom Snout in Pacific Northwest Ballet’s television production of George Balanchine’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” produced for the BBC as the first high-definition production of an American ballet company.

Obuzor, who is originally from Pittsburgh, trained at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School and joined the professional company at age 17. Since that time, he has danced with PBT in more than 40 ballets. Obuzor also has choreographed classical and contemporary works for PBT, PBTS, Point Park University, CAPA High School, as well as a number of independent projects. He is on the teaching faculty of PBT School.