International stars and local talent bring "Nutcracker" to town

December 07, 1996


Staff Writer

On Saturday, dozens of angels, living dolls and toy soldiers glided along the Maryland Theatre's stage as several youngsters witnessed "The Nutcracker" for the first time.

With all the sweet and elegant characters of the ballet, it was "the rats" that appealed to Andy Manuel, 9, and Nick Gargano, 8, as they saw their first "Nutcracker" performance.

It's a family tradition to see "The Nutcracker," said Mary Gargano, whose aunt, Alice Marquez, of Clear Spring, took her to see it when she was a child.


"She likes to make sure all the children get a chance to see it," Gargano said, including the boys who are Marquez's great nephews.

The roughly 90-minute ballet was performed twice on Saturday to a total crowd of about 1,250 people by the Donetsk Ballet, from the Republic of Ukraine, and by many young local ballet dancers.

It was the first Nutcracker performance for Patti Murphy and her daughter Katie, who said they came to see Audrey Beatty, the daughter of a friend, perform. Audrey, 8, was the third angel from the right.

"We've seen the performances on TV and we've read the children's version of the book," said Patti Murphy, of Hagerstown. But, she had always wanted to see it live.

While several people were experiencing the joy of "The Nutcracker" for the first time, many others were returning to see a favorite.

Edna Harmon, 63, of Frederick, has been going to see "The Nutcracker" annually since her granddaughter Mandy Staley started performing in the ballet at the age of 5.

Mandy, 14, performed Saturday as a big doll and as a mouse, while her brother Jason, 10, was a toy soldier in his first performance of the ballet.

Nadine Mullinax, of Hagerstown, brought her two granddaughters to the ballet on Saturday afternoon before the two girls head off to Africa with their father, who is a Marine, she said.

Ashley, 10, and Brittany, 6, said their favorite part of the ballet is the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy."

Five-year-old Elizabeth Wolfkill is becoming a pro at "The Nutcracker." She saw the ballet on Saturday for the second time with her mom, Kathy Haupt, of Hagerstown.

Wolfkill, a member of the City Ballet School, said she wants to be a snowflake in the ballet.

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