Southeastern's Columbia Theatre to present holiday classic ballet
Contact: Tonya Lowentritt
Click on thumbnail for high resolution photo
THE NUTCRACKER– Southeastern Louisiana University’s Columbia Theatre will present Hammond Ballet Company’s The Nutcracker Dec. 11 and 12 at 7 p.m. Featured in lead roles in last year’s production are, from left, front, Ashli Tallo as Candy Cane, guest artist Megan Ross as Snow Queen, and Anna deTiege as the Arabian. Pictured, back row, from left, are Regen Lavergne as Marzipan, Heidi Wales as Dew Drop, guest artist Brooklyn Mack as the Nutcracker, Madison Ryan as Clara, guest artist Andrea Maciel de Faria as Sugar Plum, Margaret Walker as Spanish, and Devon Foster as Marzipan.
HAMMOND – For the seventh consecutive year, Southeastern Louisiana University’s Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts will present Hammond Ballet Company’s “The Nutcracker.” Due to the show’s popularity, the downtown Hammond theatre is offering two performances on Dec. 11 and 12 at 7 p.m.
“Watching this classic ballet come to life for new audiences each year is my favorite way to start the season,” said Columbia Theatre Director Donna Gay Anderson. “The music alone will take people through memories of Christmases past. Hammond Ballet, featuring professional dancers in the lead roles, does such an honorable job of bringing fresh energy to this holiday favorite. It will be a treat for all of us.”
The role of Clara will be performed by 12-year-old Britley Wells of Ponchatoula. She is a student at Holy Ghost School and a dance student at A Touch of Class in Ponchatoula. Wells has danced a number of roles in the Nutcracker over the years, has a personal collection of nutcrackers started by her grandmother, and wants to continue the nutcracker tradition with her future children.
Cast with mostly local children, the ballet will also feature two guest artists: Aubrey Morgan as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Sergey Kheylik as the Nutcracker.
Originally from New Orleans, Morgan is a former dancer with the New York City Ballet. She was a principal dancer with both New Orleans Ballet Theatre and Los Angeles Ballet, and she was also featured as a guest performer on the hit show “So You Think You Can Dance” in 2008, where she performed “The Man I Love” pas de deux from Balanchine’s “Who Cares.” On Fox’s “House,” she danced as a corps de ballet dancer on episode 5023 entitled “Under My Skin.”
Kheylik has danced with the Universal Ballet of Korea, Vienna State Opera, Carolina Ballet, Cirque Du Soleil, Los Angeles Ballet, Odyssey Dance Theatre, New Orleans Ballet Theatre, and South African Ballet Theatre. He was a gold medal recipient in the Varna International Ballet Competition in 2002 and also won gold at the Vienna International Ballet Competition in 2001. He was featured as a carousel dancer in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and as a ballet dancer in “Infiniti – Performance.”
This year marks the 13th anniversary of Hammond Ballet Company’s Nutcracker. The company was founded in 1997 by Janet Wade Neyrey, who picked up the nutcracker production after the Hammond Cultural Foundation discontinued it.
“Janet picked up the ball and produced Act II, ‘Land of the Sweets,’ of the Nutcracker at Vonnie Borden Theatre with a cast of students from Fellom Ballet,” said Linda Ross, treasurer of Hammond Ballet Company. “She borrowed costumes, had no props, and sold tickets herself. With a vision for providing performance opportunities for local dancers, a desire to contribute to the art of ballet to our community, and the cooperation of local dance studio directors, she has grown Hammond Ballet Company into a cooperative community arts program with non-profit status.”
Tickets for the Nutcracker, $22 Orchestra, $31 Loge, and $19 Balcony, are available at the Columbia Theatre box office, (985) 543-4371, or online at columbiatheatre.org. Box office hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and one hour before performance times.