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Straz showcases local young talent in legendary ballet 'The Nutcracker'

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Posted at 2:14 PM, Dec 01, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — This month, the Nutcracker returns to The Straz Center stage for the first time since the pandemic. The cast is made up of several teenagers who live right here in Tampa Bay.

“Overwhelmingly excited, we’ve been practicing quite some time, it's a huge production regardless of circumstances but there is tremendous enthusiasm to get back into the theater safely,” said Next Generation Ballet Artistic Director Philip Neal.

Many of the performers grew up sitting in the audience at The Straz enjoying shows and now they’ll be on stage dancing in the legendary ballet.

“It’s very nerve-racking at first until you get on the stage and then it's very comfortable and it's exciting to see how much the audience enjoys the show,” said 15-year-old Isabella Archer.

“Lots of family, lots of friends, and even people that my family and friends reach out to, so it’s a big community event,” said 16-year-old Lydia Fuhrmann.

“It’s so cool, it's almost surreal, it’s like so amazing, I always dreamed of having this role,” said 14-year-old Christine Johnson.

Isabella, Lydia and Christina are all taking turns playing the role of Clara. For these dancers it’s more than just a part, it’s an opportunity to shine.

“It's really cool because we can all use our own artistry and we each play the role a bit differently,” said Johnson.

They said what’s even more magical than the Sugar Plum Fairy is knowing the community appreciates all their dedication and hard work.

“The best part is the people of Tampa really come together to watch and support this Straz Center and they all enjoy seeing the students so much,” said Fuhrmann.

The Nutcracker runs from Dec. 17-19. For showtimes and tickets go to