POAC presents ‘The Nutcracker’

By Cameron Rasmusson
Reader Staff

What could be better than a cherished holiday tradition, “The Nutcracker,” joining forces with a cherished local institution, the Panida Theater?

Not much, if ticket sales are any indication. Since coming to town more than 20 years ago, the Eugene Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” has been one of the most popular annual Sandpoint productions. Presented by the Pend Oreille Arts Council, this year’s production should be no exception. POAC board member Debbie Love says tickets are already nearly gone.

“We sell out every year,” she said. “It’s expensive to bring in a ballet, so it’s nice to have a sell out each year.”

Stand up straight, soldier!

Stand up straight, soldier!

That’s not too surprising, considering the show’s double whammy of professional dancers supported by a cast of local youth. Thanks to the Eugene Ballet’s unique approach, locals can enjoy both the pride of seeing their kids on the big stage and the prowess of expert dancers. The fact that Sandpoint was one of the first towns to host the ballet further deepens ties to the community.

“We were one of the first towns and we’ve been a partner ever since,” Love said.

For POAC, the youth involvement is key, since one of its goals is to bring the arts to students. Each year, the cast is finalized when a Eugene Ballet representative works with local Becky Lucas to hold auditions. The selected cast members then begin weekly rehearsals in September until the night of the big show. This year, the cast includes third- through sixth-graders from Kootenai, Hope and Southside elementary schools. They’ll be rounding out the cast as everything from angels to mice to bonbons.

“The Nutcracker” requires careful preparation, with the ballet arriving the day beforehand and 12 volunteers helping to set up. Since the Panida has a smaller stage compared to some venues, dancers also have to calibrate their performances to the space they have. The result is spectacular, with costumes, music and, of course, the dancing combining into an unforgettable evening. Love needs no time to remember her favorite moment.

“I love the scene when the Nutcracker fights the Mouse King,” she said. “It’s pretty intense.”

The one night performance will be held on Monday, December 7 at the Panida at 7 p.m. Doors

open at 6:30 p.m.

The event is close to sold out, so if you want tickets, you’d better act fast. Tickets cost $25 for adults, $20 for POAC members and $10 for children 18 years old and younger. They can be purchased at POAC Gallery and Office, 302 N. First Avenue; Eichardt’s Pub, 212 Cedar Street; Eve’s Leaves, 326 N. First Avenue; Winter Ridge Natural Foods, 793 Lake Street and online at www.artinsandpoint.org. For more information call POAC’s office (208) 263-6139.

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