Tradition of ‘The Nutcracker’ returns to the stage

“×467.jpg” alt=”” width=”800″ height=”467″ class=”alignnone size-medium wp-image-593389″ />When it comes to “The Nutcracker,” long-time dance instructor Christine Giordano has learned never to say never. After staging a production of the famous ballet four years ago, she said it was her final go round.

That resolve lasted only until she realized 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the year the community-wide production first was performed in Alpena under her leadership.

“We’ve done it every four years since 1997,” Giordano said. “The last time was four years ago, and I had said it was my last – that is until I realized this year was going to be the 20th anniversary of the first time. I am kind of a sucker for those date type things.”

She also was nudged along by some enthusiastic dancers hoping to be a part of the production.

“The girls who were going to be the seniors and wanted to be a part of it were putting pressure on me,” Giordano said, clearly not minding having gotten talked into overseeing another Sunrise Side Community Production of “The Nutcracker.”

Performances of this seasonal favorite are slated for Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Alpena High School Auditorium with reservations available by calling 356-1439.

This year’s production features 110 participants ranging in age from 4 years to over 70 years. For many of those involved, “The Nutcracker” is a family experience.

“We’ve got families who are in it together,” Giordano said. “There’s a dad with two of his children. There are four siblings from Rogers City. Our storyteller is a grandmother who’s doing the ballet with her granddaughter and who was in the first production we did as a maid.”

The experience has such a positive impact on participants that when they grow up, they encourage their children to be a part of “The Nutcracker” as well.

“Some of my students years ago when we first started doing it, now their children are in it, so not only is it a family experience for the people who come to watch but it’s also a family experience for the people who are in it,” Giordano said.

The show features not just dancers from the Alpena area. Many also travel from Posen, Presque Isle, Rogers City and Alcona County to be a part of the beautiful ballet with its score famously composed by Tchiakovsky.

Giordano also counts on many volunteers to help with the production. Even though props and some of the costumes remained from seasons past, there still was plenty of work required to get the show ready for this weekend.

Auditions were held at the end of August, with rehearsals of various parts taking place every weekend since.

One of Giordano’s most rewarding aspects of putting on “The Nutcracker” is that all proceeds are donated back to the community and split among various non-profit organizations.

“Our proceeds are going to local charitable organizations,” she said. “The cost has changed at the high school so we won’t be able to give out quite as much as last time, which was $9,000.”

Over time, even though the productions are held only every four years, they have resulted in a total of $40,000 given out to community groups. Past recipients have included Toys for Tots, Sunrise Mission, Friends Together, Alpena Cancer Center and All Saints School, among many others.

“That’s one of the things I’m really proud of,” Giordano said. “We’ve done this for the community and by the community. People can come an enjoy the show and know that they are helping the community.”

While she chose not to announce the entire list of this year’s recipients, she said Immanuel Lutheran School will receive a portion of the proceeds because the school generously allowed rehearsals of the production to be held there.

“We’ll be giving to Toys for Tots again this year because they always need that last big push,” she also said.

This time around, Giordano isn’t closing the door on future productions of “The Nutcracker.”

Asked whether she intends to do the ballet again in another four years, she laughingly replied, “I’ve learned never to never. By the time we are looking at the 25th anniversary though, I hope I will have some younger people stepping up to lend some hands so I can gradually pass the torch.”