'Nutcracker' ballet returning to Cape at River Campus

Saturday, September 1, 2007
Moscow Ballet (The Moscow Ballet's "Great Russian Nutcracker" will be performed at the River Campus in December.)

A late addition to the River Campus events schedule will bring The Moscow Ballet's "Great Russian Nutcracker" back to Cape Girardeau on Dec. 12 and 13, after two seasons when the ballet didn't visit the city.

The concert was booked in May, said Robert Cerchio, assistant director of the Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts based at the new Southeast Missouri State University River Campus. Though no formal announcement of the booking has been made, Cerchio said there has been some advertising on local radio stations.

"The Great Russian Nutcracker" uses Russian performers to tell the "Nutcracker" story through ballet, but some local talent will be used as well. The ballet company will hold open auditions for children Sept. 28 at Dance Extensions in Jackson.

Jackie Robertson, owner of Dance Extensions, said her clients have already been alerted to the auditions and young dancers are showing great interest in taking part in the ballet.

"It's a professional dance company," Robertson said. "They're not like TV stars, but they're still celebrities to us."

When "The Great Russian Nutcracker" hits the stage at the 950-seat Bedell Performance Hall, it will mark the first time the ballet company has visited Southeast Missouri since November 2004. Between 2002 and 2004, the touring company performed every Christmas season at the Show Me Center, drawing 1,965 people in 2002, 1,697 in 2003 and 1,577 in 2004, according to Show Me Center records.

Cerchio said the booking of "Nutcracker" was purposely made to fill a space in the River Campus schedule near the holidays.

"We were looking for a seasonal program," he said.

Setting up the performance was assisted by Cerchio's long-standing professional relationship with Moscow Ballet producer Akiva Talmi, a relationship going back 25 years.

"I knew he had a proven product," Cerchio said. "His 'Nutcracker' is one of the best out there."

Season ticket holders got the first shot at purchasing "Nutcracker" tickets, Cerchio said, but due to the late addition the tickets were not offered as part of the River Campus' season ticket packages. Single-event tickets are on sale now.

So far Cerchio said response has been slow because word hasn't really gotten out about the performances, but he expects interest to pick up as the holiday season approaches and more people find out about the ballet. performance.

Beth Murdock, spokeswoman for the tour, said this year the Moscow Ballet's "Great Russian Nutcracker" will perform 120 shows in 80 markets across the country, some in venues smaller than the Bedell, some in larger venues.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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