ALAMEDA -- Just in time for the holidays, the Alameda Civic Ballet will present its ninth annual performance of "The Nutcracker" ballet at the Kofman Theater on Dec. 21-22.
"The show has become part of the holiday traditions for lots of people," said Abra Rudisill, who manages the troupe, choreography and production. "Many members of the audience come from Alameda, and a growing number are coming from Marin, Berkeley, San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area."
The Kofman Theater seats more than 1,500 people, Rudisill said. While it doesn't take that number of individuals to stage the production, the cast includes about 150 performers, who are supported by 300-plus parents and volunteers, as well as by instructor and rehearsal leader Carolyn Wilson.
"The response of people who see the show is that they are amazed at the level of the performers -- including the younger ones," she said. "I run the Alameda Civic Ballet like a small professional company, so everyone learns the discipline required in staging such a production."
"The Nutcracker" tells the story of young Clara and the Nutcracker Prince. On Christmas night, they take a journey that begins with an epic battle against the Mouse King. Next, they travel through the Land of the Snowflakes and into the Kingdom of Sweets, ruled by the enchanting Sugar Plum Fairy.
Sarah Nyfield will play the role of the fairy. Nyfield is now with Company C Contemporary Ballet of Walnut Creek and formerly performed with the Orlando Ballet. Jeremy Bannon-Neches, who was with the Nevada Ballet Theater and now works with Robert Moses' Kin company in San Francisco, will perform as the Sugar Plum Cavalier.
Nicki and Ethan White return to the roles of the Snow Queen and King, which they have had since 2010. The Whites, who are professional dancers like Nyfield and Bannon-Neches, were finalists in the CBS show "Live to Dance" with Paula Abdul in 2011. Many other roles are played by Alamedans.
"When the students see the professional dancers on stage for the first time, there is awe in their young faces," Rudisill explained. "The talent, the tutus and the magic glow of 'The Nutcracker' shows as they move across the stage, and that translates to the audience. I love teaching them how to create that magic each time they go on stage to perform."
Justin Modeliste, a senior at Alameda High School senior, plays the Nutcracker Prince, while Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School senior Katherine Hanover performs as the Mouse Queen. Alameda High School students Tiffany Chen and Talia Soglin divide their time between the important roles of Clara and the Ballerina Doll. Other local dancers in the production include David Falk, who performs as the Mouse King, and Miss Alameda Jessica Robinson.
"We do change some of the lead performers each year, while keeping some continuity," said Rudisill, an Alameda resident who started the Alameda Civic Ballet in 2003 and who performed for about 20 years with the Oakland Ballet. "It's a lot of fun, but there are always challenges to overcome."
The group does its best "to build on the previous year's production with updated choreography, costumes and more," she noted. This year, for instance, the costumes worn by the Bon Bon Dancers are all new.
Local organizations supporting this year's ballet production are: the Alameda Theatre and Cineplex; Alameda Magazine; Alameda South Shore Center; Artistic Home Studio and Boutique; Trabocco Kitchen and Cocktails; and Tucker's Super Creamed Ice Cream. Tucker's is sponsoring the Sugar Plum Parties and also hosted a "name that flavor" contest.
What: Alameda Civic Ballet's "The Nutcracker"
When: 2 p.m., Dec. 21-22
Where: Kofman Theater, 2200 Central Ave., Alameda
Cost: $18-$28 ($7 more for Sugar Plum Party)
Information: 800-838-3006, http://alamedanutcracker.com