For the Register Citizen By Jack Sheedy TORRINGTON —

While the story of Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet “The Nutcracker” never changes, this year’s production by Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory will be unique in many ways.

As Nutmeg gears up for its 50th anniversary in 2019, the set that has been used since 1996 has been showing signs of wear. If all goes as planned, this will be the final year that set will be used, both at the Warner and at the Bushnell. The design of a brand new, professionally designed “Nutcracker” set will be revealed in November and put to use in 2019, said Victoria Mazzarelli, artistic director.

“Our patrons are encouraged to attend this year’s ‘Nutcracker’ to see Campbell Baird’s exquisite set one last time,” said Sharon Dante, founder.

“Our audience has seen this set for so many years, and we’re pretty excited to present a new set, and we’re looking forward to revealing it,” Mazzarelli said.

More information about the new set, designed by Roger Lavoie, will be announced in future “Nutmeg Nuggets” columns.

This past Saturday, Sept. 22, almost 100 young dance students from around the area auditioned for Nutmeg’s 2018 “Nutcracker,” said Sharon Dante, founder.

Donna Mattiello, academic dean, said, “It’s one of the few times in the year that youngsters interact with Nutmeg proper. It’s very exciting for the little kids to come and dance with the bigger dancers. They have stars in their eyes, you know, they’re looking at the Snow Queen and the Sugar Plum, and sometimes it’s the beginning of a young child’s performance experience. For many dancers, it’s really the performing that’s the real thing. It’s that adrenaline that they feel. When they do perform, that tends to be the start of their addiction.”

Kim Shanks, of Litchfield, said she was excited that her daughter Jemima, 10, was trying out. “Dancing develops a respect for teachers and offers a way of expressing themselves and building character. They love it,” she said.

Performances of “The Nutcracker” at the Bushnell in Hartford are Dec. 8 and 9 at 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Tickets are available by calling 860-987-5900 or online at Regular performances at the Warner Theatre in Torrington are Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. For tickets, call 860-482-7180 or order online at

PHOTO CUTLINE: Kim Shanks, left rear, and Ashley LaBonte, both of Litchfield, help Kim’s daughter Jemima (51), friend Lillian Perkel (56), and Ashley’s daughter Addison (54) register to audition for “The Nutcracker” Sept. 22 at the Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts. (Photo by Jack Sheedy)


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