IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Dancenter North's "The Magic of the Nutcracker.
WHEN: 3 p.m. Saturday, December 15, and 3 p.m. Sunday, December 16.
WHERE: The Genesee Theatre, 203 N. Genesee St. Waukegan.
COST: $33, $28, $23, and $18.
INFORMATION: www.ticketmaster.com, or the theatre's box office at 847-263-6300.2.
Libertyville's Dancenter North has created an annual tradition with its production of "The Magic of the Nutcracker," and the highly anticipated 19th edition is set for the stage of the Gennesee Theatre at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The presentation features more than 100 dancers, actors, and gymnasts including Altin Kaftira, a primary dance soloist with the Dutch National Ballet, and Amy Brandt, a Dancenter North alum now performing with Washington D.C.'s Suzanne Farrell Ballet.
Kaftira, playing the Cavalier, has appeared in several previous productions and hopped the pond following a phone call from Cheri Lindell, the center's director.
"He came immediately, and it's also a full circle for Amy (Brandt)," said Molly Rosen, the dance company's marketing director. "This is our third year at the Genesee, and performers are thrilled to be in a beautifully-restored professional venue with such a rich history."
The timeless holiday theme of the story has the gift of a wooden soldier "Nutcracker" being given to a young girl, Clara, during a family Christmas party.
Her envious brother destroys the gift, and as Clara consoles herself to sleep, her dreams unfold with the Nutcracker doing battle with mice. He leads her to magical realms such as the Snow Kingdom, and the Land of Sweets.
"Clara will be played by Meghan Copeland, a Libertyville High School student, who was in third grade when she started with us," Rosen said. "The Nutcracker Prince is Patrick Trigg, a Carmel Catholic High School student, and this is his ninth year with the production."
It is also their first lead role appearances in the production, although they have danced in other
roles through the years. Dancenter North students receive an education in the dancing arts, and perform in a variety of roles to facilitate a better understanding of movement.
Brandt will play the Sugar Plum Fairy, and is returning home for the third straight year to dance in the part.
"She's based in New York, and was a Dancenter North student for many years," said Rosen. "It's always a pleasure for us to have her return during the holiday season, and renew friendships."