The Toledo Ballet will present its 75th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee performance of “The Nutcracker” at the Stranahan Theater on Dec. 12, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and on Dec. 13 at 2 p.m. The Toledo Ballet boasts the longest consecutively running annual “Nutcracker” production in the entire country. This year’s production will include a tribute to Toledo Ballet founder and artistic director emerita, Marie Vogt. A dedication to all Toledo Ballet alumni will also be part of one of the performances. All Toledo Ballet alumni will be invited onstage to take a curtain call with Marie Vogt at the end of the Saturday night performance.
Annually, there is always anticipation surrounding the iconic role of “Mother Ginger.” This year the Toledo Community Foundation president, Keith Burwell, will play the iconic role of “Mother Ginger” in the Saturday, 2 p.m. performance. A “Mother Ginger” from years past, Paul Causman of Sylvania, reprises his role during Saturday night’s performance, and Larry Nichols, of the Toledo Museum of Art, will don the bonnet in the Sunday performance. Renowned, international dancers Mary Carmen Catoya and Renato Penteado will return to their Toledo Ballet family to dance the starring roles of the Snow Queen, the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier Prince.
Lisa Mayer, Sylvania resident and Toledo Ballet artistic director, is including a few “vintage” moments in honor of the ballet’s 75th year. Mayer is bringing back the Prologue, which will include vintage pajama costumes used when Madame Vogt directed the holiday classic.
In addition to the Toledo Ballet “Nutcracker” performances, the 75th anniversary of the production is also being celebrated at the Toledo Museum of Art. The Toledo Ballet, as part of its Diamond Jubilee celebration, has joined forces with the Museum to be featured in the “Degas & the Dance” exhibit which is currently on display now through Jan. 10. The exhibit displays a retrospective of Toledo Ballet’s 75-year history of “Nutcracker” performances and includes vintage costumes, video footage, and archival photos and news clippings of past performances through the decades. The exhibit also includes an interactive dance studio space as well as open rehearsals of Toledo Ballet dancers.
Executive director of the Toledo Ballet, Mari Davies, believes this year’s performance is one not to be missed. “When a production spans as many decades as Toledo Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker,’its evolution is quite stunning,” states Davies. “Costumes, sets, and choreography guarantee perpetual modifications and eventual replacement, and certainly each dancer brings to his or her role a unique interpretation which allows it to maintain a freshness each time the curtain opens. I marvel at the thought that in the audience might possibly sit someone who years ago padded across the stage as a baby mouse and now watches her child or grandchild assume the same role. There is a comfort in that. In our community, this performance has become a beacon of the holiday season and, I believe, epitomizes that old maxim, ‘The more things change, the more things stay the same’.