Local Celebrities Appear in Hartt Community Division's 'Nutcracker'

Cameo appearances will be made by Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, Jennifer Rizzotti, Miss Connecticut, and even West Hartford Interim Fire Department Chief Gary Allyn.

The Hartt School Community Division (HCD) production of Tchaikovsky's timeless holiday classic The Nutcracker features a range of special guests in cameo roles through the course of its four-performance run. 

Special guests from the community joining the cast include Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman and Chad Williams, Director of Program Services of the Boys & Girls Club of Hartford. 

Closer to home, University President Walter Harrison; acclaimed Head Women's Basketball Coach Jennifer Rizzotti; West Hartford Fire Department Interim Chief Gary Allyn; and Miss Connecticut, Emily Audibert, also appear in cameo roles. Miss Audibert is a senior at the University of Hartford with a triple major in economics/finance, accounting, and entrepreneurial studies. She will represent Connecticut at the 2013 Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas in January. 

University of Hartford mascot Howie the Hawk, as well as Pucky the Whale, beloved mascot of Connecticut Whale, also make appearances.

The Hartt Community Division invites community figures like these to participate in The Nutcracker to strengthen our connections with the community and, more importantly, demonstrate, once again, the power of the performing arts to engage individuals from all walks of life.

Following last year’s success, HCD continues to build its production of the ballet, including new scenic elements and the addition of a fourth performance. This fourth performance, as well as the addition of a second cast of many of the roles, will give even more of Hartt’s talented students the opportunity to perform on stage in a full-length story ballet. 

In addition to the 100+ Hartt dancers between the ages of 5 and 18, former members of the Hartford Ballet will grace our stage, including Debra Collins Ryder of Farmington, Angela Quatrocelli Manger of West Hartford, and Susannah Marchese of Hartford. 

Ms. Ryder and Ms. Marchese are current ballet instructors in the Community Division and continue the strong teaching legacy of the School of the Hartford Ballet. Stephen Pier, former dancer of the Royal Danish Ballet and Associate Professor of Dance and Director of The Hartt School Dance Division, will reprise the central role of Uncle Drosselmeyer. 

Even with several special guests appearing in the production, Ms. Dunster keeps the focus on the children and students of Hartt. Dunster says of the ballet, “The holidays are a magical time of the year for children, and Hartt’s production of The Nutcracker truly evokes the spirit of the season. 

HCD’s production is performed both by and for young people. Professional guest artists dance adult roles in our production – dancing alongside, inspiring, and mentoring our students throughout the entire process – yet the focus of this production remains exactly where it should be, on our young artists. Featured roles, such as the Sugar Plum Fairy, are danced by our own advanced dancers, which gives them a unique level of experience that other schools do not typically provide.” 

Christina Henares of Avon and Gwen Schwartz of West Hartford dance the starring role of Clara, each at different performances.

Gabrielle Collins of West Hartford and Kathryn Manger of West Hartford will share the principal roles of Snow Queen and the Sugar Plum Fairy. 

Andrew Matte ’15, a University of Hartford Biology Major and Hartt School Dance Division student, will dance the role of the Cavalier. 

The nearly 100 corps members – ranging in age from 5 to 18, and from Pre-Ballet level study through HCD’s elite pre-professional program – hail from a number of area towns, including Avon, Bloomfield, Farmington, Glastonbury, Granby, Hartford, Kensington, Newington, Simsbury, South Windsor, Suffield, Tarrifville, Tolland, Unionville, and West Hartford. 

The Community Division’s production of The Nutcracker is truly a Hartford community event, incorporating the talents of our young dance artists, former members of the Hartford Ballet, Hartt School dance faculty, and area dignitaries and celebrities. The collaboration of these talented and notable individuals and the HCD Artistic Staff and Production Teams will make this holiday season’s presentation of The Nutcracker something that should not be missed.

Performances of The Nutcracker are Friday, Dec. 14, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 15, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 16, at 2 p.m. 

All performances are held in Millard Auditorium at the University of Hartford, 200 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford.  Please call the University Box Office at 860.768.4228 or 800.274.8587 or visit hcd.hartford.edu to purchase tickets.  Admission to each performance is $30 for adults; $15 for students 12 and under; and $20 for other students and senior citizens with ID.

Submitted by Hartt Community Division


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