On Oct. 31, when most children, teens and their families were donning costumes and getting ready for Halloween parties and trick-or-treating, the dancers at Ballet Theatre of Ohio were diligently working on a performance for another holiday: the troupe's annual performance of "The Nutcracker."
That day, when I went down to Christine Meneer's Munroe Falls studio, I saw dancers working on the flower ballet scene from Act II of the well-known holiday classic. Meneer is the artistic director for Ballet Theatre of Ohio.
While the ballet will be the highlight, there will be plenty of activities for guests before the show and during intermission, Meneer said. Guests will see a 20-foot Christmas tree, with pointe shoes decorated to represent the myriad characters in "The Nutcracker." Meneer said she decorated the shoes, which includes Mother Ginger, a Flower, the Sugar Plum Fairy and, of course, a Nutcracker Prince. The shoes also will include the names of donors.
"That is how we recognize our donors," she said.
The lobby also will feature a new candyland area this year, near Santa's workshop, Meneer said.
Haley Boggs, 15, of Stow, will be dancing in her 10th "Nutcracker" with Ballet Theatre of Ohio. Boggs is one of two dancers who will perform as the Dewdrop Fairy.
"I like dancing with my friends, and it's fun performing in front of an audience and dancing at the Civic," Boggs said.
To date, Boggs said her favorite role in "The Nutcracker" was Clara, the young girl who helps defeat The Mouse King and is taken by the Nutcracker Prince to the Land of Sweets. Boggs said she was Clara in BTO's 2012 production.
Her dream role? "I would like to dance the Snow Queen," she replied.
Paige Skripac, 13, of Stow, will perform the role of Clara for her second time; she previously danced that role in 2013.
"I just love this studio," said Skripac, who is dancing in her 11th "Nutcracker." "It's really good company."
Ultimately, Skripac said she would love to perform the role of The Sugar Plum Fairy.
Rachel Rauh, 16, of Stow, also is dancing the role of the Dew Drop Fairy.
"I like getting new, challenging parts and harder roles," said Rauh, who will perform in her sixth "Nutcracker." She added that her favorite role to date has been the Fairy Queen, and that one day she would love to dance the role of the Snow Queen.
"This year, I'm understudying the Snow Queen," she said.
Rachel Sulek, 13, of Barberton, said she loved "dancing with her friends and getting to meet new people." Sulek, who will dance in her 10th "Nutcracker" this year, said one of her favorite roles was the Harlequin doll, which she performed last year. Sulek said her dream role would be to perform as the Sugar Plum Fairy.
"The Nutcracker" will be performed at the Akron Civic Theatre on Nov. 28 and 29, and Dec. 5 and 6. There are two Saturday performances at 2 and 7 p.m., and one performance on Sundays at 2 p.m.
For details or tickets, call 330-688-6065 or visit ballettheatreohio.org online.