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NFMAA bringing ‘The Nutcracker’ coming to Barbara B. Mann

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Dec 6, 2022

It took a lot of work, and there was a question whether it could be pulled off, but the North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts is going to put on its signature event Wednesday.

“The Nutcracker,” Tchaikovsky’s classic holiday ballet, returns to the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Tickets are currently on sale now, starting at $15.

This is the 20th year the NFMAA has put on this performance, with the BB Mann hosting the main show for the 12th time, and every year it has gotten bigger and better.

But after Hurricane Ian hit and the school was closed for several weeks, there was a chance the show would be cancelled because of all the lost time that had to be made up.

Thanks to many double sessions, Saturday rehearsals and the fact the two main characters, The Nutcracker and Clara, were back to reprise their roles, they were able to get back on track quickly with their 200-plus cast.

“This is the heart of our school. It’s one of our biggest performances, with students from kindergarten to eighth grade,” said NFMAA principal Andrea Gunns, who plays the principal’s traditional role of Aunt Drosselmeyer. “Having the same two people in the lead roles has helped because they know what to do. Despite everything we’ve gone through, this is amazing.”

Eighth-graders Caisson Dobson and Allison Skocik will again play the Nutcracker and Clara, respectively, the first time this has ever happened.

Both had to audition for the role, as they did the first time. Both were very excited to get a second chance to lead the ballet, having learned a lot the first time.

“I learned what to do and how to do it. I can just go out and do it,” Dobson said. “I love sharing this with the younger students and parents. It’s a lot of fun.”

“It’s been a lot of fun playing Clara. I’m super-excited to see everyone do their dances,” Skocik said.“I’ve learned to be more confident. The more confident you are, the better the show is.”

Jazmyn Sanchez gets to play the Sugar Plum Fairy after two years of playing a flower.

“I feel so magical playing the sugar plum fairy. I love the music and choreography. I was so proud of myself to get the role and I can’t believe I accomplished it,” Sanchez said.

Theresa West-Taylo said she was shocked they were able to get the performance together after missing nearly a month after Hurricane Ian ravaged the school.

“We had to add additional rehearsals after school and on Saturdays. We put extra work in the auditorium, which was flooded and the county did great getting it back together,” West-Taylo said.

“It was a challenge and we were scared we might not put on the production,” Dobson said. “I’m so happy it came together and everybody stepped in and did their job.”

Tickets are $15, $25 and $35. For more information, go to www.bbmannpah.com.