In my life I have been to a few Nutcracker performances. One of them was in Moscow if you can believe it, another one was at East Hampton’s Guild Hall and most recently I had the pleasure of watching The Nutcracker at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, and let me tell you, I was completely blown away.
The Nutcracker this year, put on by Peconic Ballet Theatre, is arguably one of the best Nutcracker productions in New York State. It was that good. I couldn’t get over the professionalism of the performance, the stage direction, and set design. The director and choreographer of the show, Christiana Bitonti-Fisher, has been putting this on for the public for the last 12 years. She is the founder of the Peconic Ballet Theater and Peconic Ballet Foundation. She completely outdid herself for this year’s epic show, which included a cast of over 70 fully costumed performers.
The lead performer who played Clara for the afternoon show that we saw was 10-year-old ballet performer Julie Glick, who never missed a single beat during the show; it was like watching a star being born. Other Claras’ that performed during the week were Solange Arguello, Paige Frohnhoefer and Nina Hateau.
The Snow Queens were played by Ava Mongelluzzo and Priscilla Calise, whose professionalism and skill were indistinguishable from Broadway.
Speaking of Broadway, The Sugar Plum fairy, was played by the current ballet dancer at the Phantom of the Opera on Broadway in New York City. Her name is Claire Van Bever, and watching her on stage was like watching the human version of wind blowing.
Conner Bermingham who has performed with the US National tour of CATS, played the Snow King set the tone for a wonderful evening. Michael Sakelos who expertly played the Nutcracker and Cavalier, has partnered with Misty Copeland in On The Town. Both are teachers at Peconic Ballet Theatre.
The huge cast of 70 kids, all performing in perfect unison, really gave me a sense of optimism for the youth of America today. Each section of the show was broken down beautifully, the theater was completely packed and the crowd was roaring as these ballet dancers did impossible moves. After speaking with some of the parents of the dancers I learned that many of the older dancers have been performing in the Nutcracker since they were little girls and it is a huge part of their life experience, and it certainly shows.
The performance last week was so good that I can’t even imagine the amount of work and dedication that must have been involved to create such a beautiful day for my wife and daughter. When we got home my daughter was jumping all over the living room wanting to do the ballet moves that she just saw on stage. Maybe one day.
Congratulations to everyone involved in this wonderful show, you truly deserve it and thank you for making this time of year in the Hamptons that much more fun for the community. Looking forward to seeing it next year.