Thanksgiving is just around the corner, (but) and dancers at Ketchikan Theatre Ballet have their sights set on bringing a Christmas classic back to the stage soon thereafter.
The performance is slated for 7 p.m. on Dec. 3 and 2 p.m. on Dec. 4 at Kayhi. In-person seats are sold out, but virtual tickets are still available.
The classic ballet was developed in the late 1800's by Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky, Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov.
KTB Artistic Director Zachary Leighton once helped direct the show as the studio's assistant artistic director, but since he began as the full-time artistic director after moving back to Ketchikan this summer, he's ready to take the job on again.
"My feelings going in are really positive," Leighton said during a Thursday afternoon interview with the Daily News. "It's been a really great experience."
Leighton's first year as executive artistic director will see the first production of "The Nutcracker" since COVID-19 arrived in Ketchikan.
"So I have a little bit of experience with it, but it's definitely different for me in some ways, but similar in other ways," Leighton said. "I think it's going to be a really good show. I think that what's really nice is we haven't been able to offer Nutcracker as a performance to the community since 2019 because of COVID and other restrictions and so being able to bring back a holiday tradition to Ketchikan like Nutcracker to Ketchikan is really meaningful to me, and I hope the community feels the same way."
There are almost 90 dancers in the show this year.
"We have all the way from Ballet I all the way through Ballet IX," Leighton said, referencing KTB's company dance classes. "And then some younger boys in the production."
The youngest dancer this year is about four and a half years old.
"We have a very wide range of ages and skillsets and types of dancers," he noted.
There's also a guest dancer, Preston Stockert, dancing the roles of the Snow King and Cavalier.
Rehearsals for "The Nutcracker" started up in September, and after the Thanksgiving holiday, the dancers will move from the KTB studio space on Mission Street to Kayhi's auditorium to practice on the big stage. That's when rehearsals will really ramp up — Leighton estimated that all together, there are almost 30 rehearsals each week leading up to opening night.
"There's a lot of moving parts, it's kind of like getting ... a marching band or a military operation underway, if you will," Leighton said about preparing for the show. "Everything has to be scheduled and put in its place."
It's also important to make sure all the dancers feel comfortable on stage.
According to a roster sent to the Daily News by Leighton, this year, the cast list includes:
• Kelsey Kimmel as the Governess.
• Paige Avila in the role of Mrs. Stahlbaum.
• Grace Miller as Clara.
• Sophie Cook portraying the role of Fritz.
• Mackenzie Martin, Kelsey O'Brien, Sophie Cron and Marre Rushton as the party scene moms.
• The KTB Ballet VI boys class dancing in the party scene.
• Eve Roskam as the Scottish Doll.
• Braidyn Young portraying the Harlequin Doll.
• Kaylee Diamond and Czarina Cabillo as Jester Dolls.
• Bristol Albrant as the Cat.
• The KTB ballet VIII class as the rats.
• Ballet VI and VII classes as the soldiers.
• Viana Esposito as the Rat King.
• Foster Rushton as the Nutcracker Prince.
• Sophie Cron portraying the Snow Queen.
• The studio's ballert IX class as snowflakes.
• The Ballet II dancers as angels.
• Kelsey O'Brien as the Dawn Fairy.
• Mackenzie Martin dancing in the Spanish scene.
• Czara Cabillo and Sophie Cron dancing in the Arabian scene.
• Braidyn Young, Ahna Macmanus, Viana Esposito and Ellianne Graves dancing in the Russian scene.
• Elaine Street, Kelsey Kimmel and Eve Roskam dancing as the Reed Pipes.
• The Ballet IV dancers will be cookie fairies.
• Ballet III dancers will dance in the roles of cookies.
• Marre Rushton is the Dew Drop Fairy.
• Ballet VIII students will dance the waltz of the flowers.
• Ballet I students will be rosebuds.
• Paige Avila as the Sugar Plum Fairy.
The roles of Drosselmeyer and Dr. Stahlbaum were labeled "TBA" in the cast list provided by Leighton to the Daily News.
More information about the performance can be found at www.ketchikantheatreballet.com.