by Liza Mata
Celebrate the holiday spirit with this festive, family-friendly ballet. Myrtle Beach’s Coastal Youth Ballet Theatre presents the magical holiday production of The Nutcracker for the 13th year with performances on Dec. 8, 9, 15 and 16 at Coastal Carolina University’s Wheelwright Auditorium in Conway.
The Nutcracker ballet tells the story of young Clara who is given a magical nutcracker doll on Christmas Eve by her eccentric uncle and godfather, Herr Drosselmeyer. Adventure awaits as she and her transformed Nutcracker Prince
battle the frightful Mouse King before embarking on a journey through the Land of the Snow. With the help of the Snow Queen, Herr Drosselmeyer, Clara, and her Prince travel to the Land of the Sweets where they are entertained by the Sugar Plum Fairy, her Cavalier, and her Entourage of Sweets.
Bringing the charming Nutcracker story to life are Coastal Youth Ballet Theatre’s cast of 60 of the area’s most talented young dancers together with CYBT ballerina Kiely Elizabeth Clark as the Sugar Plum Fairy and New York City guest artist Mikhail Ilyin as the Cavalier. The Nutcracker is staged by CYBT professional artistic directors Liza Mata and Karen Mata to the magnificent music of composer Peter Tchaikovsky.
“It is a labor of love for us to put on this show every year,” says Liza Mata. “The Nutcracker has long been seen as a cultural family favorite during the holiday season, and we are so blessed to be able to bring such a beloved family tradition to the Myrtle Beach area for thirteen years now. Our dancers work tirelessly to bring these performances to life and to bring smiles and joy to their audiences.”
Coastal Youth Ballet Theatre is a nonprofit 501(c)3 arts organization dedicated to the artistic and cultural enrichment of Horry and Georgetown counties. Artistic and Executive Director Liza Mata established Coastal Youth Ballet Theatre in 2006 as the performing company of Coastal Dance Centre, a dance school based at The Market Common, Myrtle Beach, and highly regarded for its program of dance training and performance opportunities and professionally staged productions. Coastal Youth Ballet Theatre provides an artistic home base to the area’s most talented young dancers who are able to participate in full-length ballet productions, performances, scholarship awards and community outreach engagements.
A treat for The Nutcracker audience every year is finding out which local and regional celebrities are performing the special role of the beloved “Mother Ginger” character for each performance. The local celebrities and hometown
heroes who will be playing “Mother Ginger” have been nominated by their community members and will be featured individually in each of the performances.
Lt. Jon Evans, public education officer for the Myrtle Beach Fire Department, will be Mother Ginger for the 2 p.m. performance on Saturday, Dec. 15.
“I’m honored to be asked to play the role of Mother Ginger this year,” says Evans, who has been with MBFD for more than 10 years. “Being a firefighter is all about serving the community, and while this may not be the typical type of community service for a firefighter, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to be a part of the show and make the holidays a little brighter for the Myrtle Beach area.”
The remaining celebrity cast members for the role of Mother Ginger will be announced at a later date. Past “Mother Gingers” have included Barbara Jo Blain-Bellamy, mayor of Conway; Ed Piotrowski, chief meteorologist for WPDE; Johnny Vaught, Horry County councilmember; and Randal Wallace Myrtle Beach city councilmember, among others.
The Nutcracker Premiers at Coastal Carolina University, Wheelwright Auditorium, 108 Spadoni Park Circle, Conway, SC 29526.
On Saturday, December 8, 2 & 7pm;
Sunday, December 9, 3 pm;
Saturday, December 15, 2 & 7 pm;
Sunday, December 16, 3 pm.
www.tickets.coastal.edu; 843-349-ARTS (2787); in person at Wheelwright Auditorium. Box office hours: Monday – Friday, 9 am – 5 pm. Tickets: $10 – $30.