'Nutcracker' rehearsal

Jessica Futral, left, and AnnaBella Courington rehearse for the December ballet ‘The Nutcracker.’


Are you ready to see the Sugarplum Fairy again this holiday season? She’ll be coming to town, just like Santa Claus, but earlier than Dec. 25 so that she can guide Marie and the Prince in “The Nutcracker” through the Land of Sweets to usher in the holidays.

The ballet, scheduled for Dec. 2 at 2 p.m., marks the 37th year the Knox Concert Series has brought the event to Anniston. It will be danced by the Alabama Ballet at the Anniston Performing Arts Center.

Although Knox is well-organized in making this annual performance happen, the planning process is much like the precise quality of the dancers’ communication through dancing: The story based on a German fairytale has been told and re-told, yet always holds a new fascination.

“The Nutcracker” is a challenge for Knox minds at work. New ideas are always needed for both the ballet and the added merriment in the lobby. The Nutcracker Market offers a boutique, bake sale and Flower Shoppe, and there’s always a Sugarplum Party after the performance.

Knox will also participate in Christmas parades in Oxford on Dec. 6 and in Anniston on Dec. 11.

Tickets to “The Nutcracker” are on sale now for $12 per child, $20 per adult and $30 for reserved seats. Call Pam McKenzie at 256-832-4554 for ticket information

The local cast for the ballet, ages 7-16, takes instruction from Jessica Weeks Futral, selected by Knox for that assignment after former instructor Missy Beverly moved out of town. Futral, viewers might remember, was the live ballerina seen in the lobby during the ballet’s intermission and after the performance. She’s been dancing since she was 2, Futral said, and currently teaches ballet at Sheila Lindley’s World of Performing Arts in Oxford.

Her new assignment is not a job but a joy. “I enjoy sharing the love of dancing. Also, keeping the ‘Nutcracker’ tradition alive with George Balanchine’s version is one I honor.”

The Alabama Ballet is one of only eight companies in the world licensed by the Balanchine Trust to perform the legendary choreographer’s version, which was featured in the 1993 film starring Macaulay Culkin as the Nutcracker Prince.

Balanchine created this version in 1954. It focuses on a child’s view and includes many children in the performances. Today it is performed all over the world.

The local cast includes 32 dancers. The requirement for trying out was one year of dance experience. This year, only girls are in the local cast.

The younger cast helps make the ballet a pageant of color, sound and movement. But a display equal to this is the look of wonder on a child’s face as the story of a little girl’s dream unfolds.

An adult can be a child again, too, in watching “The Nutcracker.” Knox leaders realize this. “Seeing the ballet just makes all the difference in your Christmas season,” said Mandi King, president of the Knox Auxiliary Board. “This is why we are so determined that this will always be part of our programming.”

Knox also sponsors free performances of “The Nutcracker” for area schoolchildren. If you would like to support a child’s attendance to “The Nutcracker,” please send a check for $15 to Mandi King, Box 2501, Anniston AL 36202.


Wednesday history program open to all

The program at the Cheaha Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution meeting Wednesday will be “General Daniel Morgan, Revolutionary War Soldier.” The meeting, at 12:30 p.m., will be in theAlabama Room of the Public Library of Anniston and Calhoun County.


‘Hello, Dolly!” opens Oct. 11

CAST community theater opens its season with romance, comedy and music at McClellan Theatre with “Hello, Dolly!” Performances are Oct. 11-13 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 14 at 2:30 p.m.

Besides being entertaining, the musical has an emotional pull with its memorable melodies and characters looking for husbands, wives or simply admirers.

Dolly Levi, portrayed by Jennie Wall, is a woman who arranges things: not only furniture and flowers but “love” for those who need it.

The musical comedy is set in 1890 with fancy costumes and a plot that thickens with twists and turns.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and military, and $10 for students.

The second production of the season for CAST will be “Steel Magnolias” Nov. 29-Dec. 2. Auditions are over but if interested in helping out for the production, contact director Dylan Hurst at 256-453-5011 or dylanthurst@yahoo.com.

Hervey Folsom writes about the local arts scene every Sunday. Contact her at herveyfolsom@yahoo.com.